Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy and Cell Biology


Dr. Kem A. Rogers

Second Advisor

Dr. Derek R. Boughner


Heart valve tissue engineering (HVTE) has the capacity to overcome limitations in current valve design, enabling the creation of an autologous valve replacement. We propose that treating radial artery cells (RACs) with a combination of growth factors (GFs) may produce cells more similar to valve interstitial cells (VICs) for HVTE. RACs were treated with combinations of epidermal GF (E), basic fibroblast GF (F), platelet-derived GF (P), and transforming GF-beta 1 (T). Alpha smooth muscle actin (aSMA) expression was examined using real time polymerase chain reaction and confocal microscopy. A reduction in aSMA expression indicated cell transdifferentiation. A combination of E, F, and P (EFP) decreased aSMA protein and gene expression to approximately 20% and 1% of the controls, respectively. This change was sustained following 72 hours of GF removal. We have demonstrated that aSMA expression in EFP-treated RACs is comparable to levels in VICs, suggesting these cells may be used for HVTE.



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