A compact and automated ex vivo vessel culture system for the pulsatile pressure conditioning of human saphenous veins.
BACKGROUND Cell culture studies, ring studies, and indirect physiologic studies are the predominant models used to study human vascular tissue. Such studies are limited in their capacity to permit physiologic single-factor changes or to provide the proper mechanical stress or extracellular matrix present in normal tissues. We present a newly devised organ culture system that addresses these issues and permits survival of intact segments of human vascular tissue in a perfused environment. Our experience culturing human saphenous vein with this system is detailed. METHODS Perfusion culture chambers were designed and constructed in our laboratory. Excess saphenous vein segments were collected from coronary artery bypass graft cases at our hospital and then mounted into our perfusion culture system for 0, 24, 48, 72, or 96 h. Vasomotor assays, hematoxylin and eosin staining, bromodeoxyuridine staining, and factor VIII staining were performed to assess tissue survival. RESULTS A total of 24 veins were cultured. Average vessel length was 5 cm. The vessels contracted and relaxed the following amounts: time 0 (6.7% contraction, 5.0% relaxation), 24 h (5.7%, 5.3%), 48 h (5.2%, 2.8%), 72 h (4.8%, 5.3%), 96 h (4.8%, 3.8%). Hematoxylin and eosin staining, bromodeoxyuridine staining, and factor VIII staining support the viability of the tissue segments. CONCLUSION A new perfusion organ culture system has been devised that permits survival of intact human venous tissue for periods up to 96 h. Studies that permit physiologic single-factor changes along with precise control of the hemodynamic environment are possible with this system.