Hemocompatibility of tissue-engineered vascular grafts remains a major hurdle to clinical utility for small-diameter grafts. Here we assessed the feasibility of using autologous blood outgrowth endothelial cells to create an endothelium via lumenal seeding on completely biological, decellularized engineered allografts prior to implantation in the sheep femoral artery. The 4-mm-diameter, 2- to 3-cm-long grafts were fabricated from fibrin gel remodeled into an aligned tissue tube in vitro by ovine dermal fibroblasts prior to decellularization. Decellularized grafts pre-seeded with blood outgrowth endothelial cells (n=3) retained unprecedented (>95 %) monolayer coverage 1 h post-implantation and had greater endothelial coverage, smaller wall thickness, and more basement membrane after 9-week implantation, including a final week without anti-coagulation therapy, compared with contralateral non-seeded controls. These results support the use of autologous blood outgrowth endothelial cells as a viable source of endothelial cells for creating an endothelium with biological function on decellularized engineered allografts made from fibroblast-remodeled fibrin.
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Acknowledgments The authors would like to acknowledge the University of Minnesota Experimental Surgical Service staff for surgical assistance, Jim Berry for ultrasonography measurements, Mark Roney for assistance with BOEC isolation, and Pat Schaeffer for histological sectioning/staining. The funding for these studies was provided by the NIH R01 HL083880 (to RTT).
- Endothelial cells
- Tissue engineering
- Vascular graft