Incorporation of recombinant fibronectin into genetically engineered elastin-based polymers
Balderrama, Fanor Alberto
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Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in the United States. Many of these conditions require the grafting or bypassing of compromised blood vessels. To this effect, biological vascular grafts (autografts and allografts) are the first line of action. However, when the patient lacks vasculature suitable for grafting use, several synthetic grafting options are available. The search for an inert biomaterial for vascular grafts has proven to be unsuccessful. This makes the interaction taking place on the blood-biomaterial interface critical for the success of the grafts. This thesis introduces a new bio-inspired approach to tackle the mechanical and biological challenges of vascular material design. The hypothesis of this research is that recombinant fibronectin protein can be stably incorporated onto elastin-mimetic polymers to increase endothelialization. Recombinant elastin, designed to recreate the mechanical properties of natural elastin as a candidate material for vascular graft fabrication, was used as a model surface. Recombinant fibronectin-functionalized elastin-mimetic polymer displayed significant improvement in cell adhesion. Quantification of surface bound recombinant fibronectin verified the concentration dependence of this cell adhesive behavior. Modified elastin-mimetic polymer also demonstrated an enhanced ability to support endothelial cell proliferation. Furthermore, the stability of recombinant fibronectin-modified polymers was assessed. These studies provide the foundation for fabricating elastin-mimetic vascular grafts with improved endothelialization and subsequent biological performance.