One of the greatest challenges in regenerative medicine is generating clinically relevant engineered tissues with functional blood vessels. Vascularization is a key hurdle faced in designing tissue constructs larger than the in vivo limit of oxygen diffusion. In this study, we utilized fibrin-based hydrogels to serve as a foundation for vascular formation, poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) to modify fibrinogen and increase scaffold longevity, and human amniotic fluid-derived stem cells (AFSC) as a source of vascular cell types (AFSC-EC). AFSC hold great potential for use in regenerative medicine strategies, especially those involving autologous congenital applications, and we have shown previously that AFSC-seeded fibrin-PEG hydrogels have the potential to form three-dimensional vascular-like networks in vitro. We hypothesized that subcutaneously injecting these hydrogels in immunodeficient mice would both induce a fibrin-driven angiogenic host response and promote in situ AFSC-derived neovascularization. Two weeks postinjection, hydrogels were sectioned, and the following was demonstrated: the average maximum invasion distance of host murine cells into the subcutaneous fibrin/PEG scaffold was 147-±-90 μm after 1 week and 395-±-138 μm after 2 weeks; the average number of cell-lined lumen per square millimeter was significantly higher in hydrogels seeded with stem cells or cocultures containing stem cells (MSC, 36.5-±-11.4; AFSC, 47.0-±-18.9; AFSC/AFSC-EC, 32.8-±-11.6; and MSC/HUVEC, 43.1-±-25.1) versus endothelial cell types alone (AFSC-EC, 9.7-±-6.1; HUVEC, 14.2-±-8.8); and a subset of these lumen were characterized by the presence of red blood cells. Select areas of cell-seeded hydrogels contained CD31+lumen surrounded by α-smooth muscle cell support cells, whereas control hydrogels with no cells only showed infiltration of α-smooth muscle cell-positive host cells.
- amniotic fluid-derived stem cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ceramics and Composites
- Biomedical Engineering
- Metals and Alloys