Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western World. The inability of fully differentiated, load-bearing cardiovascular tissues to in vivo regenerate and the limitations of the current treatment therapies greatly motivate the efforts of cardiovascular tissue engineering to become an effective clinical strategy for injured heart and vessels. For the effective production of organized and functional cardiovascular engineered constructs in vitro, a suitable dynamic environment is essential, and can be achieved and maintained within bioreactors. Bioreactors are technological devices that, while monitoring and controlling the culture environment and stimulating the construct, attempt to mimic the physiological milieu. In this study, a review of the current state of the art of bioreactor solutions for cardiovascular tissue engineering is presented, with emphasis on bioreactors and biophysical stimuli adopted for investigating the mechanisms influencing cardiovascular tissue development, and for eventually generating suitable cardiovascular tissue replacements.
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