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Organogenesis. 2010 Oct-Dec;6(4):217-24. doi: 10.4161/org.6.4.13407.

Tubular silk scaffolds for small diameter vascular grafts.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA.


Vascular surgeries such as coronary artery bypass require small diameter vascular grafts with properties that are not available at this time. Approaches using synthetic biomaterials have been not completely successful in producing non-thrombogenic grafts with inner diameters less than 6 mm, and there is a need for new biomaterials and graft designs. We propose silk fibroin as a microvascular graft material and describe tubular silk scaffolds that demonstrate improved properties over existing vascular graft materials. Silk tubes produced using an aqueous gel spinning technique were first assessed in vitro in terms of thrombogenicity (thrombin and fibrinogen adsorption, platelet adhesion) and vascular cell responses (endothelial and smooth muscle cell attachment and proliferation) in comparison with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a synthetic material most frequently used for vascular grafts. Silk tubes were then implanted into the abdominal aortas of Sprague-Dawley rats. At time points of 2 weeks and 4 weeks post implantation, tissue outcomes were assessed through gross observation (acute thrombosis, patency) and histological staining (H&E, Factor VIII, smooth muscle actin). Over the 4-week time period, we observed graft patency and endothelial cell lining of the lumen surfaces. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using silk fibroin as a vascular graft material and some advantages of silk tubes over the currently used synthetic grafts.

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