PloS one

Engineering an endothelialized vascular graft: a rational approach to study design in a non-human primate model.

PMID 25526637


After many years of research, small diameter, synthetic vascular grafts still lack the necessary biologic integration to perform ideally in clinical settings. Endothelialization of vascular grafts has the potential to improve synthetic graft function, and endothelial outgrowth cells (EOCs) are a promising autologous cell source. Yet no work has established the link between endothelial cell functions and outcomes of implanted endothelialized grafts. This work utilized steady flow, oscillatory flow, and tumor necrosis factor stimulation to alter EOC phenotype and enable the formulation of a model to predict endothelialized graft performance. To accomplish this, EOC in vitro expression of coagulation and inflammatory markers was quantified. In parallel, in non-human primate (baboon) models, the platelet and fibrinogen accumulation on endothelialized grafts were quantified in an ex vivo shunt, or the tissue ingrowth on implanted grafts were characterized after 1mth. Oscillatory flow stimulation of EOCs increased in vitro coagulation markers and ex vivo platelet accumulation. Steady flow preconditioning did not affect platelet accumulation or intimal hyperplasia relative to static samples. To determine whether in vitro markers predict implant performance, a linear regression model of the in vitro data was fit to platelet accumulation data-correlating the markers with the thromboprotective performance of the EOCs. The model was tested against implant intimal hyperplasia data and found to correlate strongly with the parallel in vitro analyses. This research defines the effects of flow preconditioning on EOC regulation of coagulation in clinical vascular grafts through parallel in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo analyses, and contributes to the translatability of in vitro tests to in vivo clinical graft performance.