Nanoscience and Microsystems ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-15-2018


As a cell mediated-process, valvular heart disease (VHD) results in significant morbidity and mortality world-wide. In the US alone, valvular heart disease VHD is estimated to affect 2.5% of the population with a disproportionate impact on an increasing elderly populous. It is well understood that the primary driver for valvular calcification is the differentiation of valvular interstitial cells (VICs) into an osteoblastic-like phenotype. However, the factors leading to the onset of osteoblastic-like VICs (obVICs) and resulting calcification are not fully understood and a more complete characterization of VIC differentiation and phenotypic change is required before treatment of valve disease or growth of tissue engineered heart valves (TEHVs) can be realized. By investigating the microenvironmental cues at the cell-material interface, surface chemistry, protein adhesion, and integrin expression we have identified cell-material signaling that may be responsible for heart valve tissue calcification as well as healthy in vitro growth environments. These studies were then translated into a three-dimensional hydrogel system for the study of VICs in a more physically relevant cell culture system.


Valvular Interstitial Cells, Heart Valve, Tissue Engineering, Degradable Hydrogels, Self-Assembled Monolayers

Document Type




Degree Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

Level of Degree


Department Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

First Committee Member (Chair)

Elizabeth L. Hedberg-Dirk

Second Committee Member

Andrew P. Shreve

Third Committee Member

Linnea K. Ista

Fourth Committee Member

Gabriel A. Montaño