Improved endothelialization of vascular grafts by local release of growth factor from heparinized collagen matrices

M.J.B. Wissink, R. Beernink, A.A. Poot, T. Beugeling, G.H.M. Engbers, W.G. van Aken, J. Feijen

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219 Citations (Scopus)


Endothelial cell seeding, a promising method to improve the performance of small-diameter vascular grafts, requires a suitable substrate, e.g. crosslinked collagen. In addition, the growth of seeded endothelial cells can be improved by local release of a heparin-binding protein, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). In this study, the influence of immobilization of heparin to collagen, crosslinked using N-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-N′-ethylcarbodiimide (EDC) in combination with N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS), on the binding and release of bFGF was determined. Heparin was immobilized also using EDC and NHS. Furthermore, the effects of the release of bFGF from (heparinized) EDC/NHS-crosslinked collagen on the proliferation of seeded endothelial cells was studied in vitro. Immobilization of increasing amounts of heparin to EDC/NHS-crosslinked collagen (containing 14 free ε-amino groups per 1000 amino acid residues, E/N14C) resulted in binding of increasing amounts of bFGF to the material. Maximal bFGF binding was observed for E/N14C containing 20–30 mg heparin immobilized per gram of collagen which was obtained using a molar ratio of EDC to heparin-carboxylic acid groups of 0.4 for heparin immobilization (E/N14C-H(0.4)). Up to concentrations of 320 ng bFGF/ml, 10% of the added bFGF bound to E/N14C, while binding of bFGF to E/N14C-H(0.4) was 22%. The initial release rate of bFGF bound to E/N14C was much higher compared to bFGF bound to E/N14C-H(0.4): respectively, 30 vs. 2% in the first 6 h. After 10 days, the bFGF release from E/N14C and E/N14C-H(0.4) amounted to 83 vs. 42%, respectively. Binding of increasing amounts of bFGF resulted in increased growth of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) seeded on both E/N14C and E/N14C-H(0.4). Nevertheless, after 6 and 10 days of proliferation cell numbers on E/N14C-H(0.4) where higher than cell numbers on E/N14C, irrespective of the bFGF concentration used for loading of the matrix. It is concluded that heparinized, EDC/NHS-crosslinked collagen is a good synthetic vascular graft coating for in vivo endothelial cell seeding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-114
JournalJournal of controlled release
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • METIS-106555
  • IR-74371
  • Sustained release
  • Vascular grafts
  • Endothelial cell seeding
  • Heparin immobilization
  • Growth factors


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