Ascorbic acid promotes extracellular matrix deposition while preserving valve interstitial cell quiescence within 3D hydrogel scaffolds.
Current options for aortic valve replacements are non-viable and thus lack the ability to grow and remodel, which can be problematic for paediatric applications. Toward the development of living valve substitutes that can grow and remodel, porcine aortic valve interstitial cells (VICs) were isolated and encapsulated within proteolytically degradable and cell-adhesive poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels, in an effort to study their phenotypes and functions. The results showed that encapsulated VICs maintained high viability and proliferated within the hydrogels. The VICs actively remodelled the hydrogels via secretion of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and deposition of new extracellular matrix (ECM) components, including collagens I and III. The soft hydrogels with compressive moduli of ~4.3 kPa quickly reverted VICs from an activated myofibroblastic phenotype to a quiescent, unactivated phenotype, evidenced by the loss of α-smooth muscle actin expression upon encapsulation. In an effort to promote VIC-mediated ECM production, ascorbic acid (AA) was supplemented in the medium to investigate its effects on VIC function and phenotype. AA treatment enhanced VIC spreading and proliferation, and inhibited apoptosis. AA treatment also promoted VIC-mediated ECM remodelling by increasing MMP-2 activity and depositing collagens I and III. AA treatment did not significantly influence the expression of α-smooth muscle actin (myofibroblast activation marker) and alkaline phosphatase (osteogenic differentiation marker). No calcification or nodule formation was observed within the cell-laden hydrogels, with or without AA treatment. These results suggest the potential of this system and the beneficial effect of AA in heart valve tissue engineering. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Wu, Y; Puperi, DS; Grande-Allen, KJ; West, JL
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