Surface modification and endothelialization of biomaterials as potential scaffolds for vascular tissue engineering applications
Surface modification and endothelialization of vascular biomaterials are common approaches that are used to both resist the nonspecific adhesion of proteins and improve the hemocompatibility and long-term patency of artificial vascular grafts. Surface modification of vascular grafts using hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol), zwitterionic polymers, heparin or other bioactive molecules can efficiently enhance hemocompatibility, and consequently prevent thrombosis on artificial vascular grafts. However, these modified surfaces may be excessively hydrophilic, which limits initial vascular endothelial cell adhesion and formation of a confluent endothelial lining. Therefore, the improvement of endothelialization on these grafts by chemical modification with specific peptides and genes is now arousing more and more interest. Several active peptides, such as RGD, CAG, REDV and YIGSR, can be specifically recognized by endothelial cells. Consequently, graft surfaces that are modified by these peptides can exhibit targeting selectivity for the adhesion of endothelial cells, and genes can be delivered by targeting carriers to specific tissues to enhance the promotion and regeneration of blood vessels. These methods could effectively accelerate selective endothelial cell recruitment and functional endothelialization. In this review, recent developments in the surface modification and endothelialization of biomaterials in vascular tissue engineering are summarized. Both gene engineering and targeting ligand immobilization are promising methods to improve the clinical outcome of artificial vascular grafts.