Dynamic processes involved in the pre-vascularization of silk fibroin constructs for bone regeneration using outgrowth endothelial cells.

PMID 19091396


For successful bone regeneration tissue engineered bone constructs combining both aspects, namely a high osteogenic potential and a rapid connection to the vascular network are needed. In this study we assessed the formation of pre-vascular structures by human outgrowth endothelial cells (OEC) from progenitors in the peripheral blood and the osteogenic differentiation of primary human osteoblasts (pOB) on micrometric silk fibroin scaffolds. The rational was to gain more insight into the dynamic processes involved in the differentiation and functionality of both cell types depending on culture time in vitro. Vascular tube formation by OEC was assessed quantitatively at one and 4 weeks of culture. In parallel, we assessed the temporal changes in cell ratios by flow cytometry and in the marker profiles of endothelial and osteogenic markers by quantitative real-time PCR. In terms of OEC, we observed an increase in tube length, tube area, number of nodes and number of vascular meshes within a culture period of 4 weeks, but a decrease in endothelial markers in real-time PCR. At the same time early osteogenic markers were downregulated, while marker expression associated with progressing mineralized matrix was upregulated in later stages of the culture. In addition, deposition of matrix components, such as collagen type I, known as a pro-angiogenic substrate for endothelial cells, appeared to increase with time indicated by immunohistochemistry. In summary, the study suggests a progressing maturation of the tissue construct with culture time which seems to be not effected by culture conditions mainly designed for outgrowth endothelial cells.