Proliferation of endothelial cells on surface-immobilized albumin-heparin conjugate loaded with basic fibroblast growth factor

Gert W. Bos, Nicole M. Scharenborg, André A. Poot, Gerard H.M. Engbers, Tom Beugeling, Willem G. van Aken, Jan Feijen

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Seeding of endothelial cells (ECs) on the luminal surface of small-diameter vascular grafts is a promising method to avoid occlusion of these prostheses. Immobilization of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) to substrates used to coat or fill porous prostheses may enhance the formation of a confluent monolayer of ECs. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were grown on bFGF-loaded albumin-heparin conjugate bound to CO2 gas-plasma-treated polystyrene. In the order of 2-3 ng/cm2 bFGF had to be immobilized to form a confluent monolayer of HUVECs. The most prominent effect of surface-immobilized bFGF was stimulation of the proliferation shortly after seeding, resulting within 3 days in confluent cell monolayers with high density. In contrast, in cultures with 0.3 ng/mL bFGF in the medium instead of bFGF bound to the surface, it took almost a week before the cell layers reached confluency. Binding of bFGF to heparin and the biological activity of bFGF towards ECs were not influenced by the (radio-)labeling of bFGF with iodine. However, only a minor part of the bFGF used in this study displayed heparin affinity. Furthermore, degradation and multimerization of labeled bFGF in time occurred when the growth factor was stored at 20°-37°C. This limits the use of labeled bFGF to short-term (hours) experiments. In conclusion, bFGF loading of vascular graft surfaces through complexation of bFGF with a heparin-containing matrix probably will lead to more rapid formation of a confluent monolayer of ECs on graft surfaces upon seeding of the cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-240
JournalJournal of biomedical materials research
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • METIS-105681
  • IR-71542
  • basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF)
  • Stability
  • Small-diameter vascular grafts
  • albumin-heparin conjugate
  • Endothelial cell seeding


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