Mechanocompatible Polymer-Extracellular-Matrix Composites for Vascular Tissue Engineering

Bin Jiang, Rachel Suen, Jiao Jing Wang, Zheng J. Zhang, Jason A. Wertheim*, Guillermo A. Ameer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Small-diameter vascular grafts developed from vascular extracellular matrix (ECM) can potentially be used for bypass surgeries and other vascular reconstruction and repair procedures. The addition of heparin to the ECM improves graft hemocompatibility but often involves chemical cross-linking, which increases ECM mechanical stiffness compared to native arteries. Herein, the importance of maintaining ECM mechanocompatibility is demonstrated, and a mechanocompatible strategy to immobilize heparin onto the ECM via a biodegradable elastomer is described. Specifically, poly(1,8-octamethylene citrate)-co-cysteine is hybridized to the ECM, forming a polymer-ECM composite that allows for heparin immobilization via maleimide–thiol “click” chemistry. Heparinized composites reduce platelet adhesion by >60% in vitro, without altering the elastic modulus of the ECM. In a rat abdominal aortic interposition model, intimal hyperplasia in heparinized mechanocompatible grafts is 65% lower when compared to ECM-only control grafts at four weeks. In contrast, grafts that are heparinized with carbodiimide chemistry exhibit increased intimal hyperplasia (4.2-fold) and increased macrophage infiltration (3.5-fold) compared to ECM-only control grafts. All grafts show similar, partial endothelial cell coverage and little to no ECM remodeling. Overall, a mechanocompatible strategy to improve ECM thromboresistance is described and the importance of ECM mechanical properties for proper in vivo graft performance is highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1594-1605
Number of pages12
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 6 2016


  • composite
  • extracellular matrix (ECM)
  • heparin
  • poly(1,8-octamethylene citrate) (POC)
  • vascular graft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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