Vascularization into a poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) sponge was investigated using basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). This growth factor was impregnated into biodegradable gelatin microspheres for its sustained release and then the bFGF-containing microspheres or free bFGF were incorporated into PVA sponges. Following subcutaneous implantation into the back of mice, the bFGF-containing gelatin microspheres induced vascularization in and around the sponge to a significantly greater extent than that of free bFGF from 3 days after implantation. Significant ingrowth of fibrous tissue into the sponge was also observed when bFGF-containing microspheres were added to the sponge in contrast to free bFGF. Tissue ingrowth occurred into the deeper portion of the sponge over time while it accompanied formation of new capillaries. Empty gelatin microspheres had no effect on vascularization and the level of fibrous tissue ingrowth into the sponge was similar to that of the control group. It was concluded that incorporation of gelatin microspheres containing bFGF into the PVA sponge was effective in prevascularization of the sponge pores.
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