Co-culture of endothelial cells (EC) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) results in robust vascular network formation in constrained 3-D collagen/fibrin (COL/FIB) composite hydrogels. However, the ability to form endothelial networks is lost when such gels are allowed to compact via cell-mediated remodeling. In this study, we created co-cultures of human EC and human MSC in both constrained and unconstrained COL/FIB matrices and systematically added nanoparticulate hydroxyapatite (HA, 0-20 mg ml(-1)), a bone-like mineral that has been shown to have pro-vasculogenic effects. Constructs cultured for 7 days were assayed for gel compaction, vascular network formation, and mechanical properties. In vitro, robust endothelial network formation was observed in constrained COL/FIB constructs without HA, but this response was significantly inhibited by addition of 5, 10, or 20 mg ml(-1) HA. In unconstrained matrices, network formation was abolished in pure COL/FIB constructs but was rescued by 1.25 or 2.5 mg ml(-1) HA, while higher levels again inhibited vasculogenesis. HA inhibited gel compaction in a dose-dependent manner, which was not correlated to endothelial network formation. HA affected initial stiffness of the gels, but gel remodeling abrogated this effect. Subcutaneous implantation of COL/FIB with 0, 2.5 or 2 0mg ml(-1) HA in the mouse resulted in increased perfusion at the implant site, with no significant differences between materials. Histology at day 7 showed both host and human CD31-stained vasculature infiltrating the implants. These findings are relevant to the design of materials and scaffolds for orthopedic tissue engineering, where both vasculogenesis and formation of a mineral phase are required for regeneration.
Keywords: Collagen; Fibrin; Hydroxyapatite; In vivo; Vasculogenesis.
Copyright © 2014 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.