Effective vascularization is a prerequisite for the success of various different tissue engineering concepts. While simultaneous administration of basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been previously demonstrated to boost angiogenesis, the combined long-term delivery of both growth factors from biomaterials is still a major challenge. In this work, two important heparin binding cytokines were delivered in parallel from a modular starPEG (multi-armed polyethylene glycol)--heparin hydrogel system to human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) grown in culture and in a chicken embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model. As the utilized gels contain high quantities of heparin, loading and subsequent release of both growth factors (as determined by radiolabeling studies and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay [ELISA]) occurred independently from each other. The combined delivery of FGF-2 and VEGF through starPEG-heparin hydrogels resulted in pro-angiogenic effects in vitro (study of cell survival/proliferation, morphology and migration) and in vivo (quantification of CAM vascularization) being clearly superior over those of the administration of single factors. Consequently, the independent delivery of growth factor combinations by biohybrid starPEG-heparin matrices allows for the precise multifactorial control of cellular processes critically determining regeneration.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.