Long-term in vivo study of biodegradable Zn-Cu stent: A 2-year implantation evaluation in porcine coronary artery
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In the present study, a novel biodegradable Zn-0.8Cu coronary artery stent was fabricated and implanted into porcine coronary arteries for up to 24 months. Micro-CT analysis showed that the implanted stent was able to maintain structural integrity after 6 months, while its disintegration occurred after 9 months of implantation. After 24 months of implantation, approximately 28 ± 13 vol% of the stent remained. Optical coherence tomography and histological analysis showed that the endothelialization process could be completed within the first month after implantation, and no inflammation responses or thrombosis formation was observed within 24 months. Cross-section analysis indicated that the subsequent degradation products had been removed in the abluminal direction, guaranteeing that the strut could be replaced by normal tissue without the risk of contaminating the circulatory system, causing neither thrombosis nor inflammation response. The present work demonstrates that the Zn-0.8Cu stent has provided sufficient structural supporting and exhibited an appropriate degradation rate during 24 months of implantation without degradation product accumulation, thrombosis, or inflammation response. The results indicate that the Zn-0.8Cu coronary artery stent is promising for further clinical applications. Statement of Significance Although Zn and its alloys have been considered to be potential candidates of biodegradable metals for vascular stent use, by far, no Zn-based stent with appropriate medical device performance has been reported because of the low mechanical properties of zinc. The present work presents promising results of a Zn-Cu biodegradable vascular stent in porcine coronary arteries. The Zn-Cu stent fabricated in this work demonstrated adequate medical device performance both in vitro and in vivo and degraded at a proper rate without safety problems induced. Furthermore, large animal models have more cardiovascular similarities as humans. Results of this study may provide further information of the Zn-based stents for translational medicine research.