Fast-Degrading Tissue-Engineered Vascular Grafts Lead to Increased Extracellular Matrix Cross-Linking Enzyme Expression

Tissue Eng Part A. 2021 Nov;27(21-22):1368-1375. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2020.0266. Epub 2021 Aug 18.


Tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs) require adequate extracellular matrix (ECM) to withstand arterial pressure. Tissue transglutaminase (TG2) and lysyl oxidase (LOX) are enzymes that cross-link ECM proteins and play a pivotal role in the development of vascular stiffness associated with aging. The purpose of this study is to investigate the expression of ECM cross-linking enzymes and mechanisms of scaffold degeneration leading to vascular stiffness in TEVG remodeling. Fast- and slow-degrading electrospun TEVGs were fabricated using polydioxanone (PDO) and poly(L-lactide-co-caprolactone) (PLCL) copolymer, with a PDO/PLCL ratio of 9:1 for fast-degrading and 1:1 for slow-degrading graft. These grafts were implanted in rats (n = 5/group) as abdominal aortic interposition conduits. The grafts were harvested at 1 month to evaluate patency, mechanical properties, vascular neotissue formation, and the expression of ECM cross-linking enzymes. All TEVGs were patent without any aneurysmal formation at 1 month. ECM area, TG2-positive area, and LOX-positive area were significantly greater in fast-degrading TEVGs compared to slow-degrading TEVGs, with significantly less remaining scaffold. The mechanical properties of fast-degrading TEVGs were similar to that of native aorta, as demonstrated by strain-stress curve. In conclusion, at 1 month, fast-degrading TEVGs had rapid and well-organized ECM with greater TG2 and LOX expression and native-like mechanical properties, compared to slow-degrading TEVGs. Impact statement Around 1.4 million patients in the United States require arterial prostheses each year due to cardiovascular diseases. Current synthetic vascular grafts suffer from increased risk of infection, thrombosis, a lack of endothelialization, and compliance mismatch to the native vasculature. Tissue-engineered vascular graft (TEVGs) presented in this study exhibited tunable biodegradation profiles by controlling the polymer ratio of polydioxanone/poly(L-lactide-co-caprolactone). One month after implantation, the fast-degrading TEVGs exhibited mechanical properties similar to that of native aorta, formation of endothelium, and well-organized extracellular matrix (ECM) with increased expression of tissue transglutaminase and lysyl oxidases, which are critical to the ECM remodeling process.

Keywords: arterial tissue; electrospinning; lysyl oxidase; tissue remodeling; tissue transglutaminase; tissue-engineered vascular graft.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis*
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Humans
  • Polydioxanone
  • Protein Glutamine gamma Glutamyltransferase 2*
  • Rats


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Polydioxanone
  • Protein Glutamine gamma Glutamyltransferase 2