Objective: The ideal small-caliber arterial graft remains elusive despite several decades of intense research. A novel approach to the development of small-caliber arterial prostheses with a biomimetic system for in vitro vessel culture has recently been described. In this study we examined the effects of culture time and tissue culture scaffolding on engineered vessel morphology and function and found that these parameters greatly influence the function of engineered vessels. Methods: This report describes the effects of culture time and scaffold type on vessel morphology, cellular differentiation, and vessel mechanical characteristics. Engineered vessels were cultured from bovine aortic smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and endothelial cells that were seeded onto biodegradable polymer scaffolds and cultured under physiologically pulsatile conditions. Engineered vessels were subjected to histologic, ultrastructural, immunocytochemical, and mechanical analyses. Results: Vessel morphology and mechanical characteristics improved as time in culture increased to 8 weeks. SMCs in the engineered vessel wall were organized into a highly lamellar structure, with cells separated by alternating layers of collagen fibrils. Polymer scaffold remnants were present in vessels cultured for 8 weeks, and SMCs that were in proximity to polymer remnants exhibited a dedifferentiated phenotype. Conclusions: These findings aid in the systematic understanding of the effects of in vitro parameters on engineered vessels and will be useful for the translation of vessel culture techniques to human cells for the development of autologous human vascular grafts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine