, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 674-682,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 12 Jul 2011

An Early Study on the Mechanisms that Allow Tissue-Engineered Vascular Grafts to Resist Intimal Hyperplasia

Abstract

Intimal hyperplasia is one of the prominent failure mechanisms for arteriovenous fistulas and arteriovenous access grafts. Human tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs) were implanted as arteriovenous grafts in a novel baboon model. Ultrasound was used to monitor flow rates and vascular diameters throughout the study. Intimal hyperplasia in the outflow vein of TEVGs was assessed at the anastomosis and at juxta-anastomotic regions via histological analysis, and was compared to intimal hyperplasia with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) grafts in the baboon model and in literature reports from other animal models. Less venous intimal hyperplasia was observed in histological sections with arteriovenous TEVGs than with arteriovenous PTFE grafts. TEVGs were associated with a mild, noninflammatory intimal hyperplasia. The extent of intimal tissue that formed with TEVG placement correlated with the rate of blood flow through tissue engineered vascular grafts at 2 weeks postimplant. Outflow vein dilatation was observed with increased flow rate. Both mid-graft flow rates and outflow vein diameters reached a plateau by week 4, which suggested that venous remodeling and intimal hyperplasia largely occurred within the first 4 weeks of implant in the baboon model. Given their compliant and noninflammatory nature, TEVGs appear resistant to triggers for venous intimal hyperplasia that are common for PTFE arteriovenous grafts, including (1) abundant proinflammatory macrophage populations that are associated with PTFE grafts and (2) compliance mismatch between PTFE grafts and the outflow vein. Our findings suggest that arteriovenous TEVGs develop only a mild form of venous intimal hyperplasia, which results from the typical hemodynamic changes that are associated with arteriovenous settings.