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Cell Transplant. 2005;14(6):367-74.

Effects of copper and cross-linking on the extracellular matrix of tissue-engineered arteries.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


In many cases, the mechanical strengths of tissue-engineered arteries do not match the mechanical strengths of native arteries. Ultimate arterial strength is primarily dictated by collagen in the extracellular matrix, but collagen in engineered arteries is not as dense, as organized, or as mature as collagen in native arteries. One step in the maturation process of collagen is the formation of hydroxylysyl pyridinoline (HP) cross-links between and within collagen molecules. HP cross-link formation, which is triggered by the copper-activated enzyme lysyl oxidase, greatly increases collagen fibril stability and enhances tissue strength. Increased cross-link formation, in addition to increased collagen production, may yield a stronger engineered tissue. In this article, the effect of increasing culture medium copper ion concentration on engineered arterial tissue composition and mechanics was investigated. Engineered vessels grown in low copper ion concentrations for the first 4 weeks of culture, followed by higher copper ion concentrations for the last 3 weeks of culture, had significantly elevated levels of cross-link formation compared to those grown in low copper ion concentrations. In contrast, vessels grown in high copper ion concentrations throughout culture failed to develop higher collagen cross-link densities than those grown in low copper ion concentrations. Although the additional cross-linking of collagen in engineered vessels may provide collagen fibril stability and resistance to proteolysis, it failed to enhance global tissue strength.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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