Image: SEM micrograph of EPCs in PLA/G5 scaffolds after 7 days culture. Asterisk: G5 glass. Arrows: endothelial progenitor cells.
“We’ve understood the importance of the local microenvironment in determining what happens to cells thanks to recent advances in the understanding of stem cell biology and mechanosensing. With this in mind, we’ve succeeded in developing a bioactive, biodegradable biomaterial mimics a bone healing-like microenvironment that triggers the cues needed to guide the regenerative process.”
Their low-cost and easy-to-make composite sends biochemical and mechanical cues to activate two cell signaling pathways that set the bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells into action. With time they home into the right place, differentiate into the right kind of cells and start to branch into the tree-like structures we associate with blood vessels.
It is the first time that a composite containing a bioactive, biodegradable glass has been proven to be directly involved in angiogenesis and the differentiation of endothelial progenitor cells. As well as offering exciting new therapeutic opportunities for biomaterial-based vascularization approaches and clinical applications, the discovery will help researchers build a model of the underlying biological interactions at the cell-material interface to contribute to the rational design of further pro-angiogenic smart biomaterials.
The work is published this week in the journal Cells and Materials (eCM), a specific journal on cells and biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue.
A. Aguirre, A. González, M. Navarro, Ó. Castaño, J. A. Planell & E. Engel (2012). Control of microenvironmental cues with a smart biomaterial composite promotes endothelial progenitor cell angiogénesis. Eur Cell Mater., 24 July 2012