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Myocardial infarction (MI) remains the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the U.S., accounting for nearly 140,000 deaths per year. Heart transplantation and implantation of mechanical assist devices are

Myocardial infarction (MI) remains the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the U.S., accounting for nearly 140,000 deaths per year. Heart transplantation and implantation of mechanical assist devices are the options of last resort for intractable heart failure, but these are limited by lack of organ donors and potential surgical complications. In this regard, there is an urgent need for developing new effective therapeutic strategies to induce regeneration and restore the loss contractility of infarcted myocardium. Over the past decades, regenerative medicine has emerged as a promising strategy to develop scaffold-free cell therapies and scaffold-based cardiac patches as potential approaches for MI treatment. Despite the progress, there are still critical shortcomings associated with these approaches regarding low cell retention, lack of global cardiomyocytes (CMs) synchronicity, as well as poor maturation and engraftment of the transplanted cells within the native myocardium. The overarching objective of this dissertation was to develop two classes of nanoengineered cardiac patches and scaffold-free microtissues with superior electrical, structural, and biological characteristics to address the limitations of previously developed tissue models. An integrated strategy, based on micro- and nanoscale technologies, was utilized to fabricate the proposed tissue models using functionalized gold nanomaterials (GNMs). Furthermore, comprehensive mechanistic studies were carried out to assess the influence of conductive GNMs on the electrophysiology and maturity of the engineered cardiac tissues. Specifically, the role of mechanical stiffness and nano-scale topographies of the scaffold, due to the incorporation of GNMs, on cardiac cells phenotype, contractility, and excitability were dissected from the scaffold’s electrical conductivity. In addition, the influence of GNMs on conduction velocity of CMs was investigated in both coupled and uncoupled gap junctions using microelectrode array technology. Overall, the key contributions of this work were to generate new classes of electrically conductive cardiac patches and scaffold-free microtissues and to mechanistically investigate the influence of conductive GNMs on maturation and electrophysiology of the engineered tissues.

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