Material-mediated proangiogenic factor release pattern modulates quality of regenerated blood vessels

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Hydrogels designed to sustainably release bioactive molecules are extensively used to enhance tissue repair and regenerative therapies. Along this line, numerous efforts are made to control the molecular release rate and amount. In contrast, few efforts are made to control the molecular release pattern, and, subsequently, modulate the spatial organization of newly forming tissues, including blood vessels. Therefore, using a hydrogel printed to release vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) into a pre-defined pattern, this study demonstrates that spatial distribution of VEGF is important in guiding growth direction of new blood vessels, and also in retaining the structural integrity of pre-existing vasculature. Guided by a computational model, we fabricated a patch composed of micro-sized VEGF-releasing poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogel cylinders using an ink-jet printer. Interestingly, hydrogel printed with computationally optimized spacing created anisotropically aligned vasculature exclusively when the printed gel pattern was placed parallel to pre-existing blood vessels. In contrast, vascular sprouting from placing the printed gel pattern perpendicular to pre-existing vessels resulted in deformation and structural disintegration of the original vasculature. We envision that this study will be useful to better understand angiogenesis-modulated neovascularization and further improve the treatment quality for various wounds and tissue defects.Graphical abstractGrowth factor delivery has become a prevalent method to treat tissue defects.This study demonstrates that spatial organization of drug with respect to vasculature is crucial for developing healthy vessels.

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