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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2015 Mar;103(3):1218-30. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.35257. Epub 2014 Aug 28.

Human elastin polypeptides improve the biomechanical properties of three-dimensional matrices through the regulation of elastogenesis.

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Department of Health Sciences, University of Piemonte Orientale "A. Avogadro", 28100, Novara, Italy.


The replacement of diseased tissues with biological substitutes with suitable biomechanical properties is one of the most important goal in tissue engineering. Collagen represents a satisfactory choice for scaffolds. Unfortunately, the lack of elasticity represents a restriction to a wide use of collagen for several applications. In this work, we studied the effect of human elastin-like polypeptide (HELP) as hybrid collagen-elastin matrices. In particular, we studied the biomechanical properties of collagen/HELP scaffolds considering several components involved in ECM remodeling (elastin, collagen, fibrillin, lectin-like receptor, metalloproteinases) and cell phenotype (myogenin, myosin heavy chain) with particular awareness for vascular tissue engineering applications. Elastin and collagen content resulted upregulated in collagen-HELP matrices, even showing an improved structural remodeling through the involvement of proteins to a ECM remodeling activity. Moreover, the hybrid matrices enhanced the contractile activity of C2C12 cells concurring to improve the mechanical properties of the scaffold. Finally, small-angle X-ray scattering analyses were performed to enable a very detailed analysis of the matrices at the nanoscale, comparing the scaffolds with native blood vessels. In conclusion, our work shows the use of recombinant HELP, as a very promising complement able to significantly improve the biomechanical properties of three-dimensional collagen matrices in terms of tensile stress and elastic modulus.


C2C12; collagen scaffold; extracellular matrix remodeling; human elastin-like polypeptide; tissue engineering

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