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Tissue Engineered Small Vessel Conduits – The Anti-Thrombotic Effect of Re-Endothelialization of Decellularized Baboon Arteries: A Preliminary Experimental Study

Muriel Meiring, Mmakgabu Khemisi, Leana Laker, Pascal M. Dohmen, Francis E. Smit

(Department of Haematology and Cell Biology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2017; 23:344-351

DOI: 10.12659/MSMBR.905978

BACKGROUND: The use of decellularized biological scaffolds for the reconstruction of small-diameter vascular grafts remains a challenge in tissue engineering. Thrombogenicity is an important cause of obstruction in these vessels due to decellularization. Seeding of the decellularized vascular constructs with endothelial cells is therefore a prerequisite for the prevention of thrombosis. The aim of this study was to seed decellularized baboon arteries with endothelial cells and to compare the thrombogenicity to that of decellularized arteries after circulation of blood.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Carotid, radial, and femoral arteries (12 arteries in total) were harvested from 2 Papio ursinus baboons. Ten arteries were decellularized. Normal morphology was confirmed in the control vessels. The effect of re-endothelialization was studied in the vessel scaffolds using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Decellularization resulted in vessel scaffolds with well-preserved extracellular matrix and intact basal membranes. Six of the decellularized vessel scaffolds were seeded with viable human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Luminal endothelialization was established after 7 days in a bioreactor and SEM confirmed confluency. Two control, 4 decellularized, and 6 decellularized re-endothelialized vessel scaffolds were studied in an in vitro flow chamber using baboon blood.
RESULTS: The decellularized arteries showed an absence of endothelial lining, and an intact basement membrane. The seeding process produced a complete endothelial layer on the surfaces of the arteries. After perfusion with whole blood, no thrombi were formed in the control arteries and re-endothelialized vessels. Widespread platelet activation and adhesion occurred in the decellularized vessels despite a relatively intact basal membrane.
CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the development of re-endothelialized tissue engineered small-vessel conduits.

Keywords: Blood Coagulation, Blood Vessel Prosthesis, endothelial cells, Tissue Engineering, Tissue Scaffolds

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