Ventral hernia is often addressed surgically by the placement of prosthetic materials, either synthetic or from allogeneic and xenogeneic biologic sources. Despite advances in surgical approaches and device design, a number of postsurgical limitations remain, including hernia recurrence, mesh encapsulation, and reduced vascularity of the implanted volume. The in situ controlled release of angiogenic factors from a scaffold facilitating abdominal wall repair might address some of these issues associated with suboptimal tissue reconstruction. Furthermore, a biocomposite material that combines the favorable mechanical properties achievable with synthetic materials and the bioactivity associated with xenogeneic tissue sources would be desirable. In this report, an abdominal wall repair scaffold has been designed based on a microfibrous, elastomeric poly(ester carbonate)urethane urea matrix integrated with a hydrogel derived from decellularized porcine dermis (extracellular matrix [ECM] gel) and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres loaded with nitro-oleic acid (NO2-OA). NO2-OA is an electrophilic fatty acid nitro-alkene derivative that, under hypoxic conditions, induces angiogenesis. This scaffold was utilized to repair a rat abdominal wall partial thickness defect, hypothesizing that the nitro-fatty acid release would facilitate increased angiogenesis at the 8-week endpoint. The quantification of neovascularization was conducted by novel methodologies to assess vessel morphology and spatial distribution. The repaired abdominal wall defects were evaluated by histopathologic methods, including quantification of the foreign body response and cellular ingrowth. The results showed that NO2-OA release was associated with significantly improved regional angiogenesis. The combined biohybrid scaffold and NO2-OA-controlled release strategy also reduced scaffold encapsulation, increased wall thickness, and enhanced cellular infiltration. More broadly, the three components of the composite scaffold design (ECM gel, polymeric fibers, and PLGA microparticles) enable the tuning of performance characteristics, including scaffold bioactivity, degradation, mechanics, and drug release profile, all decisive factors to better address current limitations in abdominal wall repair or other soft tissue augmentation procedures.
Keywords: abdominal wall defect model; angiogenesis; dermal ECM; elastomeric patch; nitro-oleic acid.