Biomedical Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2018


Aortic valve disease (AVD) is a large contributor to health costs in the United States affecting 2.8% of the population greater than 75 years old. With a growing elderly population due to medical advances, AVD will continue to rise in prevalence over time. Current treatments for AVD are insufficient due to a lack of preventative therapies and the bioprosthetic valves used for surgical replacement have major limitations. Tissue engineered heart valves (TEHVs) present an ideal solution to current AVD needs because of their biocompatibility, capability to integrate with the host’s tissue, and ability to utilize the natural repair mechanisms of the body. To achieve this goal, we designed synthetic environments with specific cell phenotypes and scaffold properties in order to direct cellular behavior and tissue growth in vitro. In this work cell subpopulations, mechanical stiffness of the substrate, and material surface charge were all studied to understand how the primary cells of the aortic valve, valvular interstitial cells (VICs), were affected by specific environmental cues. These studies were then translated from monolayer culture into a three-dimensional hydrogel system for the study of VICs in a more physically relevant cell culture system.


Valvular interstitial Cells, Hydrogels, Differentiation, Osteoblastic, Integrin, subpopulation

Document Type




Degree Name

Biomedical Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Elizabeth L. Hedberg-Dirk

Second Committee Member

Dr. Nancy L. Kanagy

Third Committee Member

Dr. Jennifer M. Gillette

Fourth Committee Member

MD. Thomas Howdieshell