Using RNA interference (RNAi) technology to silence an immune-stimulating complex in endothelial cells (EC), the main cellular component of blood vessels, researchers have made it possible to use the plentiful supply of donor ECs instead of a patient's own cells to generate tissue engineered vascular grafts for transplantation. This innovative method, in which the treated EC retain their key features and functions, is reported in Tissue Engineering, Part A.
In the article entitled "Low Immunogenic Endothelial Cells Maintain Morphofunctional Properties Needed for Tissue Engineering," Skadi Lau, Dorothee Eicke, Constança Figueiredo, Ulrike Böer, and coauthors from Hannover Medical School, Germany describe their approach using lentiviral vector-mediated RNAi to silence the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I complex in donor EC collected from three different sources: peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood, and vein. The researchers demonstrated that HLA I-silenced EC were still able to express essential surface biomarkers and compounds needed to form a tight barrier between cells, to produce factors important for blood coagulation and regulating blood vessel tone, and to form capillary-like tube structures when put into 3D fibrin gels.
"This article demonstrates the impact of RNA interference technology on the development of tissue engineered vascular grafts leveraging available allogeneic cell sources," says Tissue Engineering Co-Editor-in-Chief Antonios G. Mikos, PhD, Louis Calder Professor at Rice University, Houston, TX.
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Skadi Lau et al, Low Immunogenic Endothelial Cells Maintain Morphological and Functional Properties Required for Vascular Tissue Engineering, Tissue Engineering Part A (2017). DOI: 10.1089/ten.tea.2016.0541