Consequences of seeded cell type on vascularization of tissue engineering constructs in vivo

Implantation of tissue engineering constructs is a promising technique to reconstruct injured tissue. However, after implantation the nutrition of the constructs is predominantly restricted to vascularization. Since cells possess distinct angiogenic potency, we herein assessed whether scaffold vitalization with different cell types improves scaffold vascularization. 32 male balb/c mice received a dorsal skinfold chamber. Angiogenesis, microhemodynamics, leukocyte–endothelial cell interaction and microvascular permeability induced in the host tissue after implantation of either collagen coated poly (l-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) scaffolds (group 4), additionally seeded with osteoblast-like cells (OLCs, group 1), bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (bmMSCs, group 2) or a combination of OLCs and bmMSCs (group 3) were analyzed repetitively over 14 days using intravital fluorescence microscopy. Apart from a weak inflammatory response in all groups, vascularization was found distinctly accelerated in vitalized scaffolds, indicated by a significantly increased microvascular density (day 6, group 1: 202 ± 15 cm/cm2, group 2: 202 ± 12 cm/cm2, group 3: 194 ± 8 cm/cm2), when compared with controls (group 4: 72 ± 5 cm/cm2). This acceleration was independent from the seeded cell type. Immunohistochemistry revealed in vivo VEGF expression in close vicinity to the seeded OLCs and bmMSCs. Therefore, the observed lack of cell type confined differences in the vascularization process suggests that the accelerated vascularization of vitalized scaffolds is VEGF-related rather than dependent on the potential of bmMSCs to differentiate into specific vascular cells.