The role of scaffold microarchitecture in engineering endothelial cell immunomodulation

Biomaterials. 2012 Oct;33(29):7019-27. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.06.052. Epub 2012 Jul 12.


The implantation of matrix-embedded endothelial cells (MEECs) has been reported to have great therapeutic potential in controlling the vascular response to injury and maintaining patency in arteriovenous anastomoses. While there is an appreciation of their effectiveness in clinical and animal studies, the mechanisms through which they mediate these powerful effects remain relatively unknown. In this work, we examined the hypothesis that the 3-dimensional microarchitecture of the tissue engineering scaffold was a key regulator of endothelial behavior in MEEC constructs. Notably, we found that ECs in porous collagen scaffold had a markedly altered cytoskeletal structure with oriented actin fibers and rearrangement of the focal adhesion proteins in comparison to cells grown on 2D surfaces. We examined the immunomodulatory capabilities of MEECs and discovered that they were able to reduce the recruitment of monocytes to an inflamed endothelial monolayer by 5-fold compared to EC on 2D surfaces. An analysis of secreted factors from the cells revealed an 8-fold lower release of Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1 (MCP-1) from MEECs. Differences between 3D and 2D cultured cells were abolished in the presence of inhibitors to the focal adhesion associated signaling molecule Src suggesting that adhesion-mediated signaling is essential in controlling the potent immunomodulatory effects of MEEC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Aorta / cytology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CCL2 / biosynthesis*
  • Culture Media
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Culture Media
  • src-Family Kinases