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Biomaterials. 2009 Dec;30(35):6695-701. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.08.039. Epub 2009 Sep 25.

Controlled compaction with ruthenium-catalyzed photochemical cross-linking of fibrin-based engineered connective tissue.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 421 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Tissue engineering utilizing fibrin gel as a scaffold has the advantage of creating a completely biological replacement. Cells seeded in a fibrin gel can induce fibril alignment by traction forces when subjected to appropriate mechanical constraints. While gel compaction is key to successful tissue fabrication, excessive compaction can result due to low gel stiffness. This study investigated using ruthenium-catalyzed photo-cross-linking as a method to increase gel stiffness in order to minimize over-compaction. Cross-links between the abundant tyrosine molecules that comprise fibrin were created upon exposure to blue light. Cross-linking was effective in increasing the stiffness of the fibrin gel by 93% with no adverse effects on cell viability. Long-term culture of cross-linked tubular constructs revealed no detrimental effects on cell proliferation or collagen deposition due to cross-linking. After 4 weeks of cyclic distension, the cross-linked samples were more than twice as long as non-cross-linked controls, with similar cell and collagen contents. However, the cross-linked samples required a longer incubation period to achieve a UTS and modulus comparable to controls. This study shows that photo-cross-linking is an attractive option to stiffen the initial fibrin gel and thereby reduce cell-induced compaction, which can allow for longer incubation periods and thus more tissue growth without compaction below a useful size.

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