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Improved vasculogenesis and bone matrix formation through coculture of endothelial cells and stem cells in tissue-specific methacryloyl gelatin-based hydrogels

: Wenz, Annika; Tjoeng, Iva; Schneider, Isabelle; Kluger, Petra; Borchers, Kirsten


Biotechnology & bioengineering 115 (2018), No.10, pp.2643-2653
ISSN: 0006-3592
ISSN: 1097-0290
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IGB ()
bone matrix formation; capillary formation; coculture; human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs); human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMECs); tissue-specific methacryloyl-modified gelatin (GM) hydrogels

The coculture of osteogenic and angiogenic cells and the resulting paracrine signaling via soluble factors are supposed to be crucial for successfully engineering vascularized bone tissue equivalents. In this study, a coculture system combining primary human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs) and primary human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMECs) within two types of hydrogels based on methacryloyl-modified gelatin (GM) as three-dimensional scaffolds was examined for its support of tissue specific cell functions. HDMECs, together with hASCs as supporting cells, were encapsulated in soft GM gels and were indirectly cocultured with hASCs encapsulated in stiffer GM hydrogels additionally containing methacrylate-modified hyaluronic acid and hydroxyapatite particles. After 14 days, the hASC in the stiffer gels (constituting the “bone gels”) expressed matrix proteins like collagen type I and fibronectin, as well as bone-specific proteins osteopontin and alkaline phosphatase. After 14 days of coculture with HDMEC-laden hydrogels, the viscoelastic properties of the bone gels were significantly higher compared with the gels in monoculture. Within the soft vascularization gels, the formed capillary-like networks were significantly longer after 14 days of coculture than the structures in the control gels. In addition, the stability as well as the complexity of the vascular networks was significantly increased by coculture. We discussed and concluded that osteogenic and angiogenic signals from the culture media as well as from cocultured cell types, and tissue-specific hydrogel composition all contribute to stimulate the interplay between osteogenesis and angiogenesis in vitro and are a basis for engineering vascularized bone.