An ultrastructural analysis of collagen in tissue engineered arteries.
Collagen is the structural molecule that is most correlated with strength in blood vessels. In this study, we compared the properties of collagen in engineered and native blood vessels. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to image sections of engineered and native arteries. Band periodicities of engineered and native collagen fibrils indicated that spacing between collagen molecules was similar in engineered and native tissues. Engineered arteries, however, had thinner collagen fibrils and fibers than native arteries. Further, collagen fibrils were more loosely packed within collagen fibers in engineered arteries than in native arteries. The sensitivity of TEM analysis allowed measurement of the relative frequency of observation for alignment of collagen. These observations showed that collagen in both engineered and native arteries was aligned circumferentially, helically, and axially, but that engineered arteries had less circumferential collagen and more axial collagen than native arteries. Given that collagen is primarily responsible for dictating the ultimate mechanical properties of arterial tissue, future efforts should focus on using relative frequency of observation for alignment of collagen as a descriptive input for models of the mechanical properties of engineered or native tissues.
Dahl, SLM; Vaughn, ME; Niklason, LE
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