Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 479–495 | Cite as

Adhesive Peptide Sequences Regulate Valve Interstitial Cell Adhesion, Phenotype and Extracellular Matrix Deposition



Knowledge of how extracellular matrix (ECM) binding impacts valve interstitial cells (VICs) is critical not only to better understanding the etiology of valvular diseases but also to constructing living valve substitutes that can grow and remodel. Use of ECM-mimicking adhesive peptides with specific affinity to different receptors provides insights into adhesion-mediated cell signaling and downstream outcomes. Expression of adhesion receptors by VICs was assessed by flow cytometry and used to guide the choice of peptides studied. The peptide RGDS with affinity to multiple integrin receptors, and specific receptor-targeting peptides DGEA (integrin α 2 β 1), YIGSR (67 kDa laminin/elastin receptor; 67LR), and VAPG (67LR) were incorporated into hydrogels to investigate their effects on VICs. DGEA, YIGSR, and VAPG alone were insufficient to induce stable VIC adhesion. As a result, these peptides were studied in combination with 1 mM RGDS. For VICs cultured on two-dimensional hydrogel surfaces, YIGSR and VAPG down-regulated the expression of smooth muscle α-actin (myofibroblast activation marker); DGEA promoted VIC adhesion and VIC-mediated ECM deposition and inhibited the activity of alkaline phosphatase (osteogenic differentiation marker). Further, YIGSR and DGEA in combination promoted ECM deposition while inhibiting both myofibroblastic and osteogenic differentiation. However, VICs behaved differently to adhesive ligands when cultured within three-dimensional hydrogels, with most VICs assuming a healthy, quiescent phenotype under all peptide conditions tested. DGEA promoted ECM deposition by VICs within hydrogels. Overall, we demonstrate that the presentation of defined peptides targeting specific adhesion receptors can be used to regulate VIC adhesion, phenotype and ECM synthesis.


VICs ECM remodeling Tissue engineering Scaffolds PEG hydrogels 



Valve interstitial cells


Extracellular matrix


67 kDa laminin/elastin receptor


Smooth muscle α-actin


Alkaline phosphatase






Poly(ethylene glycol)


Poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate


Matrix metalloproteinase


Human mesenchymal stem cells





This research was funded by NIH R01 HL107765. Special thanks to Daniel S. Puperi for cell isolation, Maude Cuchiara and Jennifer Connell for editorial assistance.

Conflicts of Interest

Yan Wu, K. Jane Grande-Allen and Jennifer L. West declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights Statement

No human studies were carried out by the authors for this article. No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

Supplementary material

12195_2016_451_MOESM1_ESM.docx (6.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 6758 kb)


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yan Wu
    • 1
  • K. Jane Grande-Allen
    • 2
  • Jennifer L. West
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of BioengineeringRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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