Extensive In Vivo Angiogenesis Following Controlled Release of Human Vascular Endothelial Cell Growth Factor: Implications for Tissue Engineering and Wound Healing

Authors

  • Y. Murat Elçin,

    1. Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey; and
    2. Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
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  • Vivek Dixit,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
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  • Gary Gitnick

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
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Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Vivek Dixit, Head, Liver Support and Tissue Engineering, UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, 675 Circle Drive South, MRL Room 1240, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7019, U.S.A.

Abstract

Abstract: Vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF) has strong stimulating effects on vascularization. Though very potent, VEGF is rapidly degraded due to its short half-life and when administrated by uncontrolled and nonspecific methods; however, its systemic administration in large doses can cause harmful side effects. Controlled release technology would allow delivering desired levels of bioactive VEGF within extended periods and permit examination of the in vivo effects of the compound in a broader way. The objective of this study was to determine the in vitro release behavior of VEGF from calcium alginate microspheres and the potency of this controlled release system in promoting localized neovascularization at the subcutaneous site of the rat model. In vitro release of human VEGF165 (2 and 4 μg/cm3 microsphere) was studied for 3 weeks under static conditions at 25°C, and daily hormone release was measured using a competitive enzyme immunoassay. Following an uncontrolled release within the first 4 days, a quite constant zero-order VEGF release of 50 to 90 and 70 to 120 ng/day was achieved from 2 and 4 μg/cm3 polymer loaded microspheres respectively. In vivo angiogenesis was studied for a period of 8 weeks and evaluated using immunoperoidase staining and histopathological measurements. In vivo studies with rats (n = 24) showed a considerable level of capillary network formation at the epigastric groin fascia of VEGF microsphere-implanted rats starting from the first week. The most extensive neovascularization was observed in the group with 3 week postimplanted 4 μg VEGF containing microspheres; this level of vascularization was quite similar after 8 weeks. While the control group showed no evidence of angiogenesis, the difference in VEGF-induced neovascularization is statistically significant (p < 0.03). Immunostaining of the specimens showed a strong relationship between the release of human VEGF and neovascularization. The controlled VEGF release system described here promotes vigorous angiogenesis and has applicability for tissue engineering and wound healing studies.

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