A system for the direct co-culture of endothelium on smooth muscle cells.
The development of a functional, adherent endothelium is one of the major factors limiting the successful development of tissue engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs). The adhesion and function of endothelial cells (ECs) on smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are poorly understood. The goal of this research was to optimize conditions for the direct culture of endothelium on SMCs, and to develop an initial assessment of co-culture on EC function. The co-culture consisted of a culture substrate, a basal adhesion protein, a layer of porcine SMCs, a medial adhesion protein, and a layer of porcine ECs. Conditions that led to successful co-culture were: a polystyrene culture substrate, a quiescent state for SMCs, subconfluent density for SMC seeding and confluent density for EC seeding, and fibronectin (FN) for the basal adhesion protein. EC adhesion was not enhanced by addition of FN, collagen I, collagen IV or laminin (LN) to the medial layer. 3-D image reconstruction by confocal microscopy indicated that SMCs did not migrate over ECs and the cells were present in two distinct layers. Co-cultures could be consistently maintained for as long as 10 days. After exposure to 5 dyne/cm(2) for 7.5 h, ECs remained adherent to SMCs. PECAM staining indicated junction formation between ECs, but at a lower level than that observed with EC monocultures. Co-culturing ECs with SMCs did not change the growth rate of ECs, but EC DiI-Ac-LDL uptake was increased. Thus, a confluent and adherent layer of endothelium can be directly cultured on quiescent SMCs.
Lavender, MD; Pang, Z; Wallace, CS; Niklason, LE; Truskey, GA
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