The purpose of the Human Tissue Core Facility is to make human heart tissue available for study by basic laboratory scientists, in order to gain a better understanding of disease processes and their potential reversal.
- Dr. Christine Moravec is the Director of the Human Tissue Core Facility.
- Dr. Moravec oversees the collection of human heart tissue from:
- Heart transplant recipients
- Patients who are undergoing implantation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
- Patients in whom the DOR procedure is being performed
- Unmatched organ donors
With a system which has been in place since 1986, the complete heart of each transplant recipient is obtained for research, after arrest with cardioplegic solution and a quick pathological examination. Explanted hearts of cardiac transplant recipients are available in the research laboratory within 30 minutes of explant, having been maintained in cold cardioplegic solution during transport. Some of the tissue is utilized immediately in studies of muscle function or isolated cells, and the remaining tissue from each heart is separated by heart chamber, frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored at -80°C until it is used in future studies. In this way, Dr. Moravec's team has obtained complete human hearts from over 900 transplant recipients. Obtaining informed consent from all patients for the use of their tissue enables us to consider patient diagnosis, demographics and disease history, and to correlate these variables with our findings from basic research studies. The explanted hearts of cardiac transplant recipients are used by over 15 research laboratories at CCF, who study not only the failing heart muscle and cells, but also coronary arteries, valves, and the conduction system of these hearts. Data obtained from this program contribute to many NIH and AHA supported research projects. Excess donor aorta can also be obtained during some transplants, and contributes to the study of human endothelial and smooth muscle cells in laboratories at CCF.
Dr. Moravec's laboratory also collects tissue specimens which are removed from the apex of the heart when a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is implanted in a patient with end-stage heart failure. This tissue is valuable for study, since the patient will later obtain a heart transplant, and the effects of hemodynamically unloading the human heart with an LVAD can be observed by comparing the paired samples from the same patient. Dr. Moravec's team also obtains specimens from patients undergoing the DOR procedure, in which a piece of left ventricular scar tissue is removed in order to eliminate an area of ischemic, akinetic myocardium. In a related effort, the laboratory of Dr. David VanWagoner obtains right atrial appendage tissue from patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting, as well as tissue removed during the MAZE procedure.
In order to study the failing human heart in a meaningful way, it is also necessary to have a supply of non-failing human heart tissue for comparison purposes. For this reason, Dr. Moravec maintains a close relationship with Life Banc of Northeast Ohio, the organ procurement agency responsible for obtaining hearts for transplantation. Dr. Moravec is notified when a heart has been donated for transplantation, but cannot be used for one of several reasons. If the donor family has agreed to let the heart be used for research purposes, the heart is obtained by Dr. Moravec's laboratory, often in conjunction with medical personnel from the department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, who actually travel to the donor institution and procure the heart. Over the past ten years, Dr. Moravec's team has obtained a supply of over 130 nonfailing human hearts which can be used for comparison purposes. As with the explanted hearts of transplant recipients, portions of these hearts are used immediately for muscle and myocyte studies, and the remainder is separated by heart chamber, frozen in liquid nitrogen and saved for alter biochemical and molecular analysis. Complete charts are obtained on every organ donor, so that the research findings can be interpreted based on the clinical history of the patient.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Moravec at 216.445.9949, fax 216.445.9951, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org