Biaxial Stretch Improves Elastic Fiber Maturation, Collagen Arrangement, and Mechanical Properties in Engineered Arteries.
Tissue-engineered blood vessels (TEVs) are typically produced using the pulsatile, uniaxial circumferential stretch to mechanically condition and strengthen the arterial grafts. Despite improvements in the mechanical integrity of TEVs after uniaxial conditioning, these tissues fail to achieve critical properties of native arteries such as matrix content, collagen fiber orientation, and mechanical strength. As a result, uniaxially loaded TEVs can result in mechanical failure, thrombus, or stenosis on implantation. In planar tissue equivalents such as artificial skin, biaxial loading has been shown to improve matrix production and mechanical properties. To date however, multiaxial loading has not been examined as a means to improve mechanical and biochemical properties of TEVs during culture. Therefore, we developed a novel bioreactor that utilizes both circumferential and axial stretch that more closely simulates loading conditions in native arteries, and we examined the suture strength, matrix production, fiber orientation, and cell proliferation. After 3 months of biaxial loading, TEVs developed a formation of mature elastic fibers that consisted of elastin cores and microfibril sheaths. Furthermore, the distinctive features of collagen undulation and crimp in the biaxial TEVs were absent in both uniaxial and static TEVs. Relative to the uniaxially loaded TEVs, tissues that underwent biaxial loading remodeled and realigned collagen fibers toward a more physiologic, native-like organization. The biaxial TEVs also showed increased mechanical strength (suture retention load of 303 ± 14.53 g, with a wall thickness of 0.76 ± 0.028 mm) and increased compliance. The increase in compliance was due to combinatorial effects of mature elastic fibers, undulated collagen fibers, and collagen matrix orientation. In conclusion, biaxial stretching is a potential means to regenerate TEVs with improved matrix production, collagen organization, and mechanical properties.
Huang, AH; Balestrini, JL; Udelsman, BV; Zhou, KC; Zhao, L; Ferruzzi, J; Starcher, BC; Levene, MJ; Humphrey, JD; Niklason, LE
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