Objective: To develop a novel approach for tissue engineering of soft-tissue flaps suitable for free microsurgical transfer, using an injectable nanofiber hydrogel composite (NHC) vascularized by an arteriovenous (AV) loop. Approach: A rat AV loop model was used for tissue engineering of vascularized soft-tissue flaps. NHC or collagen-elastin (CE) scaffolds were implanted into isolation chambers together with an AV loop and explanted after 15 days. Saphenous veins were implanted into the scaffolds as controls. Neoangiogenesis, ultrastructure, and protein expression of SYNJ2BP, EPHA2, and FOXC1 were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and compared between the groups. Rheological properties were compared between the two scaffolds and native human adipose tissue. Results: A functional neovascularization was evident in NHC flaps with its amount being comparable with CE flaps. Scanning electron microscopy revealed a strong mononuclear cell infiltration along the nanofibers in NHC flaps and a trend toward higher fiber alignment compared with CE flaps. SYNJ2BP and EPHA2 expression in endothelial cells (ECs) was lower in NHC flaps compared with CE flaps, whereas FOXC1 expression was increased in NHC flaps. Compared with the stiffer CE flaps, the NHC flaps showed similar rheological properties to native human adipose tissue. Innovation: This is the first study to demonstrate the feasibility of tissue engineering of soft-tissue flaps with similar rheological properties as human fat, suitable for microsurgical transfer using an injectable nanofiber hydrogel composite. Conclusions: The injectable NHC scaffold is suitable for tissue engineering of axially vascularized soft-tissue flaps with a solid neovascularization, strong cellular infiltration, and biomechanical properties similar to human fat. Our data indicate that SYNJ2BP, EPHA2, and FOXC1 are involved in AV loop-associated angiogenesis and that the scaffold material has an impact on protein expression in ECs.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Advances in Wound Care|
|State||Published - Jul 1 2020|
- arteriovenous loop
- axial vascularization
- free flap
- tissue engineering