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Integration of technologies for hepatic tissue engineering.

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  • 1Center for Engineering in Medicine, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Shriners Burns Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 51 Blossom St, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


The liver is the largest internal organ in the body, responsible for over 500 metabolic, regulatory, and immune functions. Loss of liver function leads to liver failure which causes over 25,000 deaths/year in the United States. Efforts in the field of hepatic tissue engineering include the design of bioartificial liver systems to prolong patient's lives during liver failure, for drug toxicity screening and for the study of liver regeneration, ischemia/reperfusion injury, fibrosis, viral infection, and inflammation. This chapter will overview the current state-of-the-art in hepatology including isolated perfused liver, culture of liver slices and tissue explants, hepatocyte culture on collagen "sandwich" and spheroids, coculture of hepatocytes with non-parenchymal cells, and the integration of these culture techniques with microfluidics and reactor design. This work will discuss the role of oxygen and medium composition in hepatocyte culture and present promising new technologies for hepatocyte proliferation and function. We will also discuss liver development, architecture, and function as they relate to these culture techniques. Finally, we will review current opportunities and major challenges in integrating cell culture, bioreactor design, and microtechnology to develop new systems for novel applications.

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