Alginate hydrogels allow for bioactive and sustained release of VEGF-C and VEGF-D for lymphangiogenic therapeutic applications.
- Author(s): Campbell, Kevin T
- Hadley, Dustin J
- Kukis, David L
- Silva, Eduardo A
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0181484
Lymphatic dysfunction is associated with the progression of many cardiovascular disorders due to their role in maintaining tissue fluid homeostasis. Promoting new lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) is a promising strategy to reverse these cardiovascular disorders via restoring lymphatic function. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) members VEGF-C and VEGF-D are both potent candidates for stimulating lymphangiogenesis, though maintaining spatial and temporal control of these factors represents a challenge to developing efficient therapeutic lymphangiogenic applications. Injectable alginate hydrogels have been useful for the controlled delivery of many angiogenic factors, including VEGF-A, to stimulate new blood vasculature. However, the utility of these tunable hydrogels for delivering lymphangiogenic factors has never been closely examined. Thus, the objective of this study was to utilize ionically cross-linked alginate hydrogels to deliver VEGF-C and VEGF-D for potential lymphangiogenic applications. We demonstrated that lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) are sensitive to temporal presentation of VEGF-C and VEGF-D but with different responses between the factors. The greatest LEC mitogenic and sprouting response was observed for constant concentrations of VEGF-C and a high initial concentration that gradually decreased over time for VEGF-D. Additionally, alginate hydrogels provided sustained release of radiolabeled VEGF-C and VEGF-D. Finally, VEGF-C and VEGF-D released from these hydrogels promoted a similar number of LEC sprouts as exogenously added growth factors and new vasculature in vivo via a chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. Overall, these findings demonstrate that alginate hydrogels can provide sustained and bioactive release of VEGF-C and VEGF-D which could have applications for therapeutic lymphangiogenesis.