Biomedicine

Batteries Not Required

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Science  04 Aug 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5787, pp. 593
DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5787.593a

Electronic cardiac pacemakers are small battery-operated devices that are implanted into damaged hearts to correct defects in electrical conduction between the atria and the ventricles. Although these devices are remarkably successful in restoring regular heart rhythm in adults, they can produce complications in children. Thus, new forms of pacemaker therapy are actively being explored.

Choi et al. used a tissue engineering approach to create a biologically based artificial pacemaker consisting of skeletal muscle precursor cells from fetal rats cultured in a three-dimensional collagen-based tissue construct. After documenting that the cells within the engineered tissue were coupled through gap junctions and were capable of propagating an applied electric current, the authors implanted the tissue into the heart of adult rats. The implanted tissue became vascularized and persisted for the entire lifetime of the recipient animals. Importantly, in about one-third of the rats, it produced a permanent alternative conduction pathway between the right atrium and right ventricle. Whether these tissue constructs would provide adequate pacing support in rats whose native heart rhythm has been blocked remains to be tested. — PAK

Am. J. Pathol. 169, 72 (2006).

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