Understanding aortic valve (AV) mechanics is crucial in elucidating both the mechanisms that drive the manifestation of valvular diseases as well as the development of treatment modalities that target these processes. Genetically modified mouse models have provided mechanistic insight into AV development and disease. However, very little is known about mouse aortic valve leaflet (MAVL) tensile properties due to their microscopic size (~500µm long and 45µm thick) and the lack of proper mechanical testing modalities to assess uniaxial and biaxial tensile properties of the tissue. We developed a method in which the biaxial tensile properties of MAVL tissues can be assessed by adhering the tissues to a silicone rubber membrane utilizing dopamine as an adhesive. Applying equiaxial tensile loads on the tissue-membrane composite and tracking the engineering strains on the surface of the tissue resulted in the characteristic orthotropic response of AV tissues seen in human and porcine tissues. Our data suggests that the circumferential direction is approximately 155 kPa stiffer than the radial direction (n=6, P=0.0006) in MAVL tissues. This method can be implemented in future studies involving longitudinal mechanical stimulation of genetically modified MAVL tissues bridging the gap between cellular and biomolecular mechanisms and valve mechanics in popular mouse models of valve disease.

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