Heart valve development is directed by a complex interaction of molecular and mechanical cues[1]. Both molecular and mechanical based approaches are needed to clarify these relationships. Many technologies exist for the former, but the short length scale and super-compliant material properties of embryonic valve tissue make conventional mechanical testing techniques ineffective. The pipette aspiration technique has been a useful tool in cell mechanics[2] and has recently been applied to adult valve leaflets[3]. Geometric effects of thin, planar tissues however compromise the utility of aspiration based measurements. Herein, we utilize pipette aspiration and a novel uni-axial micro-tensile testing apparatus to quantify the biomechanical evolution of avian embryonic heart valves. We then relate biomechanical stiffening to changes in underlying structural composition.

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