The effects of topographic micropatterning on endothelial colony-forming cells

Matthew W. Hagen, Monica T. Hinds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Artificial small-diameter vascular grafts remain an unmet need in modern medicine, due to the thrombosis and neointimal hyperplasia that plague currently available synthetic devices. Tissue engineering techniques, including in vitro endothelialization, could offer a solution to this problem. A potential minimally invasive source of patient autologous endothelium is endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs), endothelial-like outgrowth products of circulating progenitors. While ECFCs respond to shear stress similar to mature endothelial cells (ECs), their response to luminal topographic micropatterning (TMP), a biomaterial modification with the potential to flow-independently, enhance the attachment, migration, gene expression, and function of mature ECs, remains unstudied. In this study, case-matched carotid endothelial cells (CaECs) and blood-derived ECFCs are statically cultured on polyurethane substrates with micropatterned pitches (pitch = peak to peak distance) ranging from 3-To 14 μm. On all pattern pitches tested, both CaECs and ECFCs showed significant and robust alignment to the angle of the micropatterns. Using a novel cell-by-cell image analysis technique, it was found that actin fibers similarly and significantly aligned to the angle of micropatterned features on all pitches tested. Microtubules analyzed through the same novel approach showed significant alignment on most pitches examined, with a greater variation in fiber angle overall. Interestingly, only CaECs showed significant cellular elongation, and notably to a lower degree than previously seen either in vivo due to flow or in vitro due to spatial growth restriction micropatterning, but consistent with earlier studies of TMP. Neither cell type displayed any significant micropattern-driven changes in the expression of KLF-2 or the downstream adhesion molecules it regulates. These results demonstrate that TMP flow-independently affects ECFC morphology, but that alignment alone is insufficient to drive protective changes in EC and ECFC function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-281
Number of pages12
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Endothelial cell
  • Endothelial colony-forming cell
  • Micropatterning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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