Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Laura E Niklason MD


The engineering of human vascular grafts is an intense area of study since there is crucial need for alternatives to native vein or artery for vascular surgery. This current study sought to prove that a tissue engineered blood vessel (TEBV) 1mm in diameter could be developed from human smooth muscle cells and that endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) could be cultured and used to endothelialize these grafts. This project had four specific aims: the isolation and characterization of EPCs, the seeding of a novel scaffold with EPCs and exposure to physiologic shear stress in vitro, the development of TEBV from human smooth muscle cells that are strong enough to implant in vivo, and the in vivo implantation of TEBV into the rat aortic model with a comparison of EPC seeded TEBVs pretreated with shear stress and unseeded TEBVs. The results yielded isolation of four EPC lines and a flow system design capable of seeding EPCs onto a novel scaffold with preliminary studies indicating that it is capable of exposing the EPCs to physiologic shear stress, although further studies require more optimization. The development of mechanically strong TEBV was highly successful, yielding TEBVs comparable to native vessels in collagen density and burst pressure, but with much lower compliance. Current implantation studies indicated that unseeded TEBV grafts implanted into the rat aorta without anticoagulation is highly thrombogenic. However, anticoagulation using Plavix may be capable of maintaining graft patency. These TEBVs did not rupture or form aneurysm in vivo and the future completion of the in vivo studies are likely to demonstrate the high potential of these grafts.