Expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) vascular conduits with less than or equal to 6 mm internal diameter typically occlude due to a combination of thrombus formation and neointimal hyperplasia. We hypothesized that by layering the polymerized elastin precursor, human tropoelastin, in the synthetic vessel lumen we could mimic the internal elastic lamina and so maintain low thrombogenicity while significantly reducing smooth muscle cell proliferation. The luminal surfaces of ePTFE conduits were activated with plasma immersion ion implantation (PIII) treatment to facilitate covalent attachment of tropoelastin. Multilayered tropoelastin vessels (2TE) enhanced endothelial cell attachment and proliferation in vitro and were superior to materials lacking the protein. In an ovine carotid interposition model of graft compatibility, partially tropoelastin coated vessels (1TE) thrombosed at a greater rate than control ePTFE, but 2TE maintained the same patency as controls. 2TE showed a significant reduction in neointimal area down to 9.7 ± 5.2% (p < 0.05) in contrast to 32.3 ± 3.9% for ePTFE alone. This reduction was due to a halving of the number of smooth muscle cells present and a corresponding reduction in their proliferation. 2TE, but not 1TE, enhanced the vascular compatibility of these materials: while both tropoelastin presentations increased in vitro endothelialization, only 2TE displayed the dual benefits of maintained hemocompatibility and simultaneously suppressed neointimal hyperplasia in vivo. We conclude that 2TE surface modification provides a significant improvement over ePTFE vascular conduits in a pilot large animal model study and presents an attractive path toward clinical applications for reduced diameter vessels.
- neointimal hyperplasia
- vascular graft