Living-Engineered Valves for Transcatheter Venous Valve Repair
Background: Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) represents a major global health problem with increasing prevalence and morbidity. CVI is due to an incompetence of the venous valves, which causes venous reflux and distal venous hypertension. Several studies have focused on the replacement of diseased venous valves using xeno- and allogenic transplants, so far with moderate success due to immunologic and thromboembolic complications. Autologous cell-derived tissue-engineered venous valves (TEVVs) based on fully biodegradable scaffolds could overcome these limitations by providing non-immunogenic, non-thrombogenic constructs with remodeling and growth potential. Methods: Tri- and bicuspid venous valves (n=27) based on polyglycolic acid-poly-4-hydroxybutyrate composite scaffolds, integrated into self-expandable nitinol stents, were engineered from autologous ovine bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) and endothelialized. After in vitro conditioning in a (flow) pulse duplicator system, the TEVVs were crimped (n=18) and experimentally delivered (n=7). The effects of crimping on the tissue-engineered constructs were investigated using histology, immunohistochemistry, scanning electron microscopy, grating interferometry (GI), and planar fluorescence reflectance imaging. Results: The generated TEVVs showed layered tissue formation with increasing collagen and glycosaminoglycan levels dependent on the duration of in vitro conditioning. After crimping no effects were found on the MSC level in scanning electron microscopy analysis, GI, histology, and extracellular matrix analysis. However, substantial endothelial cell loss was detected after the crimping procedure, which could be reduced by increasing the static conditioning phase. Conclusions: Autologous living small-diameter TEVVs can be successfully fabricated from ovine BM-MSCs using a (flow) pulse duplicator conditioning approach. These constructs hold the potential to overcome the limitations of currently used non-autologous replacement materials and may open new therapeutic concepts for the treatment of CVI in the future.