The use of animal models in developing the discipline of cardiovascular tissue engineering: a review.
Tissue-engineered vascular autografts (TEVAs) were made by seeding 4-6 x 10(6) of mixed cells obtained from femoral veins of mongrel dogs onto tube-shaped biodegradable polymer scaffolds composed of a polyglycolid acid (PGA) nonwoven fabric sheet and a copolymer of L-lactide and caprolactone (n = 4). After 7 days, the inferior vena cavas (IVCs) of the same dogs were replaced with TEVAs. After 3, 4, 5, and 6 months, angiographies were performed, and the dogs were sacrificed. The implanted TEVAs were examined both grossly and immunohistologically. The implanted TEVAs showed no evidence of stenosis or dilatation. No thrombus was found inside the TEVAs, even without any anticoagulation therapy. Remnants of the polymer scaffolds were not observed in all specimens, and the overall gross appearance similar to that of native IVCs. Immunohistological staining revealed the presence of factor VIII positive nucleated cells at the luminal surface of the TEVAs. In addition, lesions were observed where alpha-smooth muscle actin and desmin positive cells existed. Implanted TEVAs contained a sufficient amount of extracellular matrix, and showed neither occlusion nor aneurysmal formation. In addition, endothelial cells were found to line the luminal surface of each TEVA. These results strongly suggest that "ideal" venous grafts with antithrombogenicity can be produced.