Published: December 2021
Macroencapsulation systems have been developed to improve islet cell transplantation but can induce a foreign body response (FBR). The development of neovascularization adjacent to the device is vital for the survival of encapsulated islets and is a limitation for long-term device success. Previously we developed additive manufactured multi-scale porosity implants, which demonstrated a 2.5-fold increase in tissue vascularity and integration surrounding the implant when compared to a non-textured implant. In parallel to this, we have developed poly(ε-caprolactone-PEG-ε-caprolactone)-b-poly(L-lactide) multiblock copolymer microspheres containing VEGF, which exhibited continued release of bioactive VEGF for 4-weeks in vitro. In the present study, we describe the next step towards clinical implementation of an islet macroencapsulation device by combining a multi-scale porosity device with VEGF releasing microspheres in a rodent model to assess prevascularization over a 4-week period. An in vivo estimation of vascular volume showed a significant increase in vascularity (* p = 0.0132) surrounding the +VEGF vs. −VEGF devices, however, histological assessment of blood vessels per area revealed no significant difference. Further histological analysis revealed significant increases in blood vessel stability and maturity (** p = 0.0040) and vessel diameter size (*** p = 0.0002) surrounding the +VEGF devices. We also demonstrate that the addition of VEGF microspheres did not cause a heightened FBR. In conclusion, we demonstrate that the combination of VEGF microspheres with our multi-scale porous macroencapsulation device, can encourage the formation of significantly larger, stable, and mature blood vessels without exacerbating the FBR.
Full Access Link: Pharmaceutics