The construction of well-controllable in vitro models of physiological and pathological vascular endothelium remains a fundamental challenge in tissue engineering and drug development. Here, we present an approach for forming a synthetic endothelial extracellular matrix (ECM) that closely resembles that of the native structure by locally depositing basement membrane materials onto type 1 collagen nanofibers only in a region adjacent to the endothelial cell (EC) monolayer. Culturing the EC monolayer on this synthetic endothelial ECM remarkably enhanced its physiological properties, reducing its vascular permeability, and promoting a stabilized, quiescent phenotype. We demonstrated that the EC monolayer on the synthetic endothelial ECM neither creates non-physiological barriers to cell-cell or cell-ECM interactions, nor hinders molecular diffusion of growth factors and other molecules. The synthetic endothelial ECM and vascular endothelium on it may help us enter in a new phase of research in which various models of the biological barrier behavior can be tested experimentally.
ASJC Scopus subject areas