For the treatment of severe lung damage which occurs for example in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease, membrane oxygenators are used for oxygenation and decarboxylation of the patient’s blood. Seeding of polymethylpentene (PMP) membranes, were the gas exchange takes place, with an endothelial monolayer is supposed to improve hemocompatibility of the material and the gas exchanger’s permanency. To evaluate the potential of culturing human microvascular endothelial cells (ECs), seeding experiments were conducted on unmodified PMP membranes and the cells were characterized.
Primary ECs from human skin biopsies were seeded on unmodified PMP fibers and cultured in cell-specific medium for up to 7 days. Afterwards, the viability assessment of the cells via live-dead and MTT-staining showed a high viability of the cells, with only few dead cells found on the surfaces. Staining of EC-specific markers showed the identity and functionality of the cells. The cells formed cell-cell contacts which were demonstrated by the staining of PECAM-1 and VE-cadherin, verifying an intact monolayer which is essential for the mediation of hemocompatability. Further markers like van Willebrand factor (vWF) as well as functionality markers like the uptake of acetylated low density lipoprotein (acLDL) proved the identity of the cells.
In contrast to former studies, our results showed the successful culture of primary human ECs on PMP fibers without a prior surface modification. Important cell type specific markers could be detected and show that primary ECs seeded on the PMP fibers keep their identity as well as their functionality, a prerequisite for the formation of an intact endothelial monolayer and a first step towards the endothelialization of a gas exchanger’s membrane surface with patient-specific cells.