Vascular endothelial growth factor-releasing scaffolds enhance vascularization and engraftment of hepatocytes transplanted on liver lobes

Alon Kedem, Anat Perets, Iris Gamlieli-Bonshtein, Mona Dvir-Ginzberg, Solly Mizrahi, Smadar Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Hepatocyte transplantation within porous scaffolds (HT) is being explored as a treatment strategy for end-stage liver diseases and enzyme deficiencies. One of the main issues in this approach is the limited viability of transplanted cells because vascularization of the scaffold site is either too slow or insufficient. We now address this by enhancing scaffold vascularization before cell transplantation via sustained delivery of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and by examining the liver lobes as a platform for transplanting donor hepatocytes in close proximity to the host liver. The vascularization kinetics of unseeded VEGF-releasing scaffolds on rat liver lobes were evaluated by analyzing the microvascular density and tissue ingrowth in implants harvested on days 3, 7, and 14 postimplantation. Capillary density was greater at all times in VEGF-releasing scaffolds than in the control scaffold without VEGF supplementation; on day 14, it was 220 ± 33 versus 139 ± 23 capillaries/mm2 (p < 0.05). Furthermore, 35% of the newly formed capillaries in VEGF-releasing scaffolds were larger than 16 μm in diameter, whereas in control scaffolds only 10% exceeded this size. VEGF had no effect on tissue ingrowth into the scaffolds. HT onto the implanted VEGF-releasing or control scaffolds was performed after 1 week of prevascularization on the liver lobe in Lewis rats. Fifty implants were harvested on days 1, 3, 7, and 12 and the area of viable hepatocytes was evaluated. The enhanced vascularization improved hepatocyte engraftment; 12 days after HT, the intact hepatocyte area (136,910 μm2/cross-section) in VEGF-releasing scaffolds was 4.6 higher than in the control group. This study shows that sustained local delivery of VEGF induced vascularization of porous scaffolds implanted on liver lobes and improved hepatocyte engraftment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-722
Number of pages8
JournalTissue Engineering
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 1 May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology


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