Authors: Alejandro Nieponice, Lorenzo Soletti, Jianjun Guan, Bridget M. Deasy, Johnny Huard, William R. Wagner and David A. Vorp
Title: Development of a tissue-engineered vascular graft combining a biodegradable scaffold, muscle-derived stem cells and a rotational vacuum seeding technique.
Summary: There is a clinical need for a tissue-engineered vascular graft (TEVG), and combining stem cells with biodegradable tubular scaffolds appears to be a promising approach. The goal of this study was to characterize the incorporation of muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs) within tubular poly(ester urethane) urea (PEUU) scaffolds in vitro to understand their interaction, and to evaluate the mechanical properties of the constructs for vascular applications. Porous PEUU scaffolds were seeded with MDSCs using our recently described rotational vacuum seeding device, and cultured inside a spinner flask for 3 or 7 days. Cell viability, number, distribution and phenotype were assessed along with the suture retention strength and uniaxial mechanical behavior of the TEVGs. The seeding device allowed rapid even distribution of cells within the scaffolds. After 3 days, the constructs appeared completely populated with cells that were spread within the polymer. Cells underwent a population doubling of 2.1-fold, with a population doubling time of 35 h. Stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1) expression by the cells remained high after 7 days in culture (77±20% vs. 66±6% at day 0) while CD34 expression was reduced (19±12% vs. 61±10% at day 0) and myosin heavy chain expression was scarce (not quantified). The estimated burst strength of the TEVG constructs was 2127±900 mmHg and suture retention strength was 1.3±0.3 N. We conclude from this study that MDSCs can be rapidly seeded within porous biodegradable tubular scaffolds while maintaining cell viability and high proliferation rates and without losing stem cell phenotype for up to 7 days of in-vitro culture. The successful integration of these steps is thought necessary to provide rapid availability of TEVGs, which is essential for clinical translation.