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Nanopatterning of Collagen Scaffolds Improve the Mechanical Properties of Tissue Engineered Vascular Grafts

Zorlutuna, P.
Elsheikh, A.
Hasırcı, Vasıf Nejat
Tissue engineered constructs with cells growing in an organized manner have been shown to have improved mechanical properties. This can be especially important when constructing tissues that need to perform under load, such as cardiac and vascular tissue. Enhancement of mechanical properties of tissue engineered vascular grafts via orientation of smooth muscle cells by the help of topographical cues have not been reported yet. In the present study, collagen scaffolds with 650, 500, and 332.5 nm wide nanochannels and ridges were designed and seeded with smooth muscle cells isolated from the human saphenous vein. Cell alignment on the construct was shown by SEM and fluorescence microscopy. The ultimate tensile strength (UTS) and Young's modulus of the scaffolds were determined after 45 and 75 days. Alamar Blue assay was used to determine the number of viable cells on surfaces with different dimensioned patterns. Presence of nanopatterns increased the UTS from 0.55 +/- 0.11 to as much as 1.63 +/- 0.46 MPa, a value within the range of natural arteries and veins. Similarly, Young's modulus values were found to be around 4 MPa, again in the range of natural vessels. The study thus showed that nanopatterns as small as 332.5 nm could align the smooth muscle cells and that alignment significantly improved mechanical properties, indicating that nanopatterned collagen scaffolds have the potential for use in the tissue engineering of small diameter blood vessels.