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International Journal of Biomaterials
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 434876, 8 pages
Research Article

Smooth Muscle Cell Alignment and Phenotype Control by Melt Spun Polycaprolactone Fibers for Seeding of Tissue Engineered Blood Vessels

1Materials and Science Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, N4.1-01-30, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798
2School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798
3Department of Polymer and Process Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, Uttarakhand 247667, India
4School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 60 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637551

Received 19 April 2015; Revised 4 August 2015; Accepted 11 August 2015

Academic Editor: Rosalind Labow

Copyright © 2015 Animesh Agrawal et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A method has been developed to induce and retain a contractile phenotype for vascular smooth muscle cells, as the first step towards the development of a biomimetic blood vessel construct with minimal compliance mismatch. Melt spun PCL fibers were deposited on a mandrel to form aligned fibers of 10 μm in diameter. The fibers were bonded into aligned arrangement through dip coating in chitosan solution. This formed a surface of parallel grooves, 10 μm deep by 10 μm across, presenting a surface layer of chitosan to promote cell surface interactions. The aligned fiber surface was used to culture cells present in the vascular wall, in particular fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells. This topography induced “surface guidance” over the orientation of the cells, which adopted an elongated spindle-like morphology, whereas cells on the unpatterned control surface did not show such orientation, assuming more rhomboid shapes. The preservation of VSMC contractile phenotype on the aligned scaffold was demonstrated by the retention of α-SMA expression after several days of culture. The effect was assessed on a prototype vascular graft prosthesis fabricated from polylactide caprolactone; VSMCs aligned longitudinally along a fiberless tube, whereas, for the aligned fiber coated tubes, the VSMCs aligned in the required circumferential orientation.