The use of a tissue engineered media equivalent in the study of a novel smooth muscle cell phenotype
Broiles, JoSette Leigh Briggs
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An increase in coronary disease prevalence and mortality highlights the growing need for therapies to treat atherosclerotic vessels. While current bypass procedures utilize autologous vessels for small caliber grafts, there is a big push towards the use of engineered tissues to bypass diseased portions of arteries. Cardiovascular tissue engineering is the emerging discipline that aims to create a functional substitute. Ideally, a tissue engineered blood vessel would possess the relevant cells and matrix proteins that interact in a physiologic manner and will respond to the environmental cues of the host. A particular obstacle to achieving appropriate vessel structure is the inclusion of elastin in a tissue engineered media equivalent. Rat arterial smooth muscle cells that were retrovirally mediated to overexpress versican V3 have been shown to have an enhanced expression of tropoelastin in vitro as well as in injury models. The unique tropoelastin expression by these adult cells was studied in the context of tissue engineered media equivalents. Changes to the extracellular matrix architecture and composition, stimulation with medium additives, and cyclic distension, were shown to increase tropoelastin synthesis in V3 versican overexpressing cells. This study not only expanded the characterization of V3 versican overexpressing smooth muscle cells, it also explored the novel use of these cells as a tropoelastin source in a tissue engineered media equivalent.