Heterotypic Scaffold Design Orchestrates Primary Cell Organization and Phenotypes in Cocultured Small Diameter Vascular Grafts

Tomasz Jungst, Iris Pennings, Michael Schmitz, Antoine J. W. P. Rosenberg, Jürgen Groll, Debby Gawlitta

Published: 01/10/2019


To facilitate true regeneration, a vascular graft should direct the evolution of a neovessel to obtain the function of a native vessel. For this, scaffolds have to permit the formation of an intraluminal endothelial cell monolayer, mimicking the tunica intima. In addition, when attempting to mimic a tunica media‐like outer layer, the stacking and orientation of vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs) should be recapitulated. An integral scaffold design that facilitates this has so far remained a challenge. A hybrid fabrication approach is introduced by combining solution electrospinning and melt electrowriting. This allows a tissue‐structure mimetic, hierarchically bilayered tubular scaffold, comprising an inner layer of randomly oriented dense fiber mesh and an outer layer of microfibers with controlled orientation. The scaffold supports the organization of a continuous luminal endothelial monolayer and oriented layers of vSM‐like cells in the media, thus facilitating control over specific and tissue‐mimetic cellular differentiation and support of the phenotypic morphology in the respective layers. Neither soluble factors nor a surface bioactivation of the scaffold is needed with this approach, demonstrating that heterotypic scaffold design can direct physiological tissue‐like cell organization and differentiation.

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