Pro-angiogenic growth factors have been studied as potential therapeutics for cardiovascular diseases like critical limb ischemia (CLI). However, the translation of these factors has remained a challenge, in part, due to problems associated with safe and effective delivery. Here, we describe a hydrogel-based delivery system for growth factors where release is modulated by focused ultrasound (FUS), specifically a mechanism termed acoustic droplet vaporization. With these fibrin-based, acoustically-responsive scaffolds (ARSs), release of a growth factor is non-invasively and spatiotemporally-controlled in an on-demand manner using non-thermal FUS. In vitro studies demonstrated sustained release of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) from the ARSs using repeated applications of FUS. In in vivo studies, ARSs containing bFGF were implanted in mice following induction of hind limb ischemia, a preclinical model of CLI. During the 4-week study, mice in the ARS + FUS group longitudinally exhibited significantly more perfusion and less visible necrosis compared to other experimental groups. Additionally, significantly greater angiogenesis and less fibrosis were observed for the ARS + FUS group. Overall, these results highlight a promising, FUS-based method of delivering a pro-angiogenic growth factor for stimulating angiogenesis and reperfusion in a cardiovascular disease model. More broadly, these results could be used to personalize the delivery of therapeutics in different regenerative applications by actively controlling the release of a growth factor.
Keywords: Acoustic droplet vaporization; Angiogenesis; Basic fibroblast growth factor; Drug delivery; Fibrin; Hind limb ischemia; Phase-shift emulsion; Ultrasound.
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