Researchers have grown arteries that show higher levels of elasticity of natural blood vessels.
The new development by University of Pittsburgh scientists could overcome a major barrier to creating living-tissue replacements for damaged arteries.
The team used smooth muscle cells from adult baboons to produce the first arteries grown outside the body that contain a substantial amount of the pliant protein elastin, which allows vessels to expand and retract in response to blood flow.
Lead researcher Yadong Wang and colleagues cultured the baboon cells in a nutrient-rich solution to bear arteries with approximately 20 percent as much elastin as an inborn artery.
They grew strong and functional arteries in three weeks.
Mechanical tests revealed that the cultured artery could withstand a burst pressure between 200 and 300 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), the standard unit for blood pressure, said Wang.
In addition to containing elastin, the artery also had approximately 10 percent of the collagen found in a natural vessel.
The findings were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.