The advance of mitral valve repair techniques through tissue engineering is impeded by the lack of information regarding the cellular and extracellular components of the mitral valve. The present study aims to expand our understanding of the mitral valve structure by analysing the synthesis of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and the expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Valvular endothelial cells (VECs) and valvular interstitial cells (VICs) were isolated from porcine mitral valves. Immunochemical staining of ECM components, including type I, II, III, IV and V Collagen, laminin, fibronectin, elastin and chondroitin sulphate (CS), was performed on both mitral valve tissue and cell cultures. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and immunochemistry were used to analyse NOS expression in native valve and in culture. Both VECs and VICs synthesised the basement membrane components, laminin and type IV Collagen both in vivo and in vitro, amongst other fibrous ECM proteins. Synthesis of type I Collagen and CS was absent in VEC cultures. Each cell type had a characteristic profile of NOS expression. VECs synthesised endothelial NOS both in vivo and in vitro, with a minority of VICs expressing neuronal NOS in vitro. The present study reports newly recognised aspects of the mitral valve structure and the in vitro behaviour of mitral valve cell populations based on ECM synthesis and NOS expression. The presented profiles can be used as base tools for the generation of data necessary for the selection of ideal cell sources and for the design of appropriate scaffolds for the development of effective tissue-engineered mitral valves. Copyright (c) 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.