Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical and General Engineering


Kristen O'Halloran Cardinal


Every 34 seconds, someone in the United States suffers from a heart attack. Most heart attacks are caused by atherosclerotic build up in the coronary arteries, occluding normal blood flow. Balloon angioplasty procedures in combination with a metal stent often result in successful restoration of normal blood flow. However, bare metal stents often lead to restenosis and other complications. To compensate for this problem, industry has created drug-eluting stents to promote healing of the artery wall post stenting. These stents are continually advancing toward better drug-eluting designs and methods, resulting in a need for fast and reliable pre-clinical testing modalities. Dr. Kristen Cardinal recently developed a tissue engineered blood vessel mimic, with the goal of testing intravascular devices. However, the scaffold component of this model exhibits several physiological limitations that must be addressed to create a truly biomemtic BVM. The current model uses expanded poly(terafluorethylene) [ePTFE] or poly(lactic-go-glycolide) [PLGA] as the choice material for the scaffold. EPTFE has several advantages as it is a widely recognized biomaterial. However, ePTFE is very expensive and lacks native mechanical properties. PLGA is another polymer that is created in-house to produce a uniquely tailored scaffold for use in the BVM; resulting in a cheaper alternative scaffold material. However, PLGA again lacks the necessary native mechanical properties to properly mimic an in-vivo artery. The creation of a biological scaffold will provide a unique biomimetic material to most accurately recapitulate the artery in-vitro.

Decellularization is the process of removing all cellular components from a tissue, leaving an acellular structure of extracellular matrix. Understanding the clinical problem and the potential of the BVM, the aim of this thesis is to develop the decellularization process for the creation of a biologic scaffold as a replacement to the non-physiologic polymer scaffolds for the BVM. The first phase of this thesis was to develop and optimize an acceptable protocol for the decellularization of porcine arteries. The use of a 0.075% sodium dodecyl sulfate detergent was sufficient for complete removal of all vascular cell types, without significant degradation to the scaffold wall. In the second phase of this thesis, the decellularized scaffolds were mechanically tested to ensure retention of their native properties. The longitudinal and radial properties of the scaffold were found to be similar to the native artery, indicating the decellularized scaffold improves several physiologically aspects when compared to a polymer scaffold. These mechanical attributes improve the testing environment when evaluating sent deployment or new balloon angioplasty devices; as the decellularized scaffold has an phsyiolgical compliance. The final phase of this thesis examined the cellular adhesion capacities of the scaffold through recellularization with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (hUVECS). Fluorescent microscopy analysis suggests uniform attachment of cells along the length of the scaffold creating a monolayer. These results indicate this new scaffold type can develop an endothelium to complete the ideal, most physiologically relevant BVM system. Further optimization of the decellularization procedures could enhance the ability of the scaffold to be cultured for long-term interaction with intravascular devices.

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