Nerve regeneration and elastin formation within poly(glycerol sebacate)-based synthetic arterial grafts one-year post-implantation in a rat model.

PMID 24119457


The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term performance of cell-free vascular grafts made from a fast-degrading elastic polymer. We fabricated small arterial grafts from microporous tubes of poly(glycerol sebacate) (PGS) reinforced with polycaprolactone (PCL) nanofibers on the outer surface. Grafts were interpositioned in rat abdominal aortas and characterized at 1 year post-implant. Grafts remodeled into "neoarteries" (regenerated arteries) with similar gross appearance to native rat aortas. Neoarteries mimic arterial tissue architecture with a confluent endothelium and media and adventita-like layers. Patent vessels (80%) showed no significant stenosis, dilation, or calcification. Neoarteries contain nerves and have the same amount of mature elastin as native arteries. Despite some differences in matrix organization, regenerated arteries had similar dynamic mechanical compliance to native arteries in vivo. Neoarteries responded to vasomotor agents, albeit with different magnitude than native aortas. These data suggest that an elastic vascular graft that resorbs quickly has potential to improve the performance of vascular grafts used in small arteries. This design may also promote constructive remodeling in other soft tissues.