Novel electrospun polyurethane/gelatin composite meshes for vascular grafts
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Novel polymeric micro-nanostructure meshes as blood vessels substitute have been developed and investigated as a potential solution to the lack of functional synthetic small diameter vascular prosthesis. A commercial elastomeric polyurethane (Tecoflex® EG-80A) and a natural biopolymer (gelatin) were successfully co-electrospun from different spinnerets on a rotating mandrel to obtain composite meshes benefiting from the mechanical characteristics of the polyurethane and the natural biopolymer cytocompatibility. Morphological analysis showed a uniform integration of micrometric (Tecoflex®) and nanometric (gelatin) fibers. Exposure of the composite meshes to vapors of aqueous glutaraldehyde solution was carried out, to stabilize the gelatin fibers in an aqueous environment. Uniaxial tensile testing in wet conditions demonstrated that the analyzed Tecoflex®–Gelatin specimens possessed higher extensibility and lower elastic modulus than conventional synthetic grafts, providing a closer matching to native vessels. Biological evaluation highlighted that, as compared with meshes spun from Tecoflex® alone, the electrospun composite constructs enhanced endothelial cells adhesion and proliferation, both in terms of cell number and morphology. Results suggest that composite Tecoflex®–Gelatin meshes could be promising alternatives to conventional vascular grafts, deserving of further studies on both their mechanical behaviour and smooth muscle cell compatibility.
KeywordsGelatin Composite Mesh Fibrous Morphology Tetramethylene Ether Gelatin Fiber
Work performed within the framework of the European Network of Excellence “EXPERTISSUES” (Project NMP3-CT-2004-500283) and with the partial financial support by PRIN-2006-prot.2006038548 and FIRB-Italy-Israel-2003-RBIN043BCP. Dr. Marcella Ferri, Dr. Cristina Bartoli are gratefully acknowledged for their contribution to the experimental work and Mr. Piero Narducci for recording SEM images. The authors would also like to acknowledge Velox GmbH, Germany for having kindly provided Tecoflex® EG-80A pellets.
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