Author(s): Venkataraman L, Ramamurthi A
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Abstract The structural stability of a cyclically distending elastic artery and the healthy functioning of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) within are maintained by the presence of an intact elastic matrix and its principal protein, elastin. The accelerated degradation of the elastic matrix, which occurs in several vascular diseases, coupled with the poor ability of adult SMCs to regenerate lost elastin, can therefore adversely impact vascular homeostasis. Similarly, efforts to tissue engineer elastic matrix structures are constrained by our inability to induce adult cells to synthesize tropoelastin precursors and to crosslink them into architectural mimics of native elastic matrices, especially within engineered constructs where SMCs/fibroblasts primarily deposit collagen in abundance. In this study, we have shown that transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) and hyaluronan oligomers (HA-o) synergistically enhance elastic matrix deposition by adult rat aortic SMCs (RASMCs) seeded within nonelastogenic, statically loaded three-dimensional gels, composed of nonelastogenic type-I collagen. While there was no substantial increase in production of tropoelastin within experimental cases compared to the nonadditive control cultures over 3 weeks, we observed significant increases in matrix elastin deposition; soluble matrix elastin in constructs that received the lowest doses of TGF-β1 with respective doses of HA-o, and insoluble matrix at the highest doses that corresponded with elevated lysyl-oxidase protein quantities. However, despite elastogenic induction, overall matrix yields remained poor in all experimental cases. At all provided doses, the factors reduced the production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-9, especially the active enzyme, though MMP-2 levels were lowered only in constructs cultured with the higher doses of TGF-β1. Immuno-fluorescence showed elastic fibers within the collagen constructs to be discontinuous, except at the edges of the constructs. Von Kossa staining revealed no calcific deposits in any of the cases. This study confirms the benefits of utilizing TGF-β1 and HA-o in inducing matrix elastin synthesis by adult RASMCs over nonadditive controls, within a collagenous environment, that is not inherently conducive to elastogenesis.
This article was published in Tissue Eng Part A
and referenced in Journal of Tissue Science & Engineering