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Int J Artif Organs. 2009 Oct;32(10):701-10.

Pulmonary tissue engineering using dual-compartment polymer scaffolds with integrated vascular tree.

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  • 1Laboratory for Tissue Engineering, Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Berlin, Germany.



The persistent shortage of donor organs for lung transplantation illustrates the need for new strategies in organ replacement therapy. Pulmonary tissue engineering aims at developing viable hybrid tissue for patients with chronic respiratory failure.


Dual-chamber polymer constructs that mimic the characteristics of the pulmonary air-blood interface were fabricated by microfabrication techniques using the biocompatible polymer polydimethylsiloxane. One compartment ("vascular chamber") was designed as a capillary network to mimic the pulmonary microvasculature. The other compartment ("parenchymal chamber") was designed to permit gas exchange. Immortalized mouse lung epithelium cells (MLE-12) were cultured on the surface of polystyrene microcarrier beads. These beads were subsequently injected into the parenchymal chamber of the dual-chamber microsystems. The vascular compartment was perfused with cell culture medium in a bioreactor and the construct was maintained in culture for 1 week.


The microcarriers evenly distributed MLE-12 cells on the parenchymal compartment surface. Confluent cell layers were confirmed by fluorescent and electron microscopy. Adequate proliferation of MLE-12 cells within the construct was monitored via the DNA content. Viability of the cells was maintained over 1 week. Finally, cellular specificity and functional capacity in situ were demonstrated by immunostaining for proSP-B and proSP-C (alveolar epithelium), and by using MLE-12 cells transfected to overexpress green fluorescent protein.


We conclude that functional hybrid microsystems mimicking the basic building plan of alveolar tissue can be engineered in vitro.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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