Stem cell-based strategies in vascular surgery [Stammzell-basierter biologischer Gefäßersatz]
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Critical chronic ischemia in patients with underlying arterial occlusive disease requires vascular reconstructive surgery. The limited supply of suitable small-diameter autologous vascular grafts in many patients and obvious disadvantages of synthetic bypass material demand the development of clinically usable tissue-engineered blood vessel substitutes. Despite substantial progress in the field over the last two decades, their implementation into the clinical routine has been challenging. The limited replicative life span of human adult vascular cells and their slow rate of collagenous matrix production in vitro have posed important problems in the development of mechanically robust and biologically functional engineered grafts. With recent advances in stem cell research, new cell sources for vascular tissue engineering have become available. In particular, the discovery of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells derived from adult differentiated cells, as well as of human multipotent adult mesenchymal stem cells without gene modification requirements and related safety concerns, may advance the development of novel autologous cell-based tissue engineering approaches. Here we discuss recent developments in the field of vascular progenitor cells and opportunities and challenges for the clinical translation of stem cell-engineered vascular tissue substitutes.