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Biomaterials. 2009 Oct;30(30):5910-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.06.034. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Scaffold-free vascular tissue engineering using bioprinting.

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1
Department of Physics, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.

Abstract

Current limitations of exogenous scaffolds or extracellular matrix based materials have underlined the need for alternative tissue-engineering solutions. Scaffolds may elicit adverse host responses and interfere with direct cell-cell interaction, as well as assembly and alignment of cell-produced ECM. Thus, fabrication techniques for production of scaffold-free engineered tissue constructs have recently emerged. Here we report on a fully biological self-assembly approach, which we implement through a rapid prototyping bioprinting method for scaffold-free small diameter vascular reconstruction. Various vascular cell types, including smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts, were aggregated into discrete units, either multicellular spheroids or cylinders of controllable diameter (300-500 microm). These were printed layer-by-layer concomitantly with agarose rods, used here as a molding template. The post-printing fusion of the discrete units resulted in single- and double-layered small diameter vascular tubes (OD ranging from 0.9 to 2.5mm). A unique aspect of the method is the ability to engineer vessels of distinct shapes and hierarchical trees that combine tubes of distinct diameters. The technique is quick and easily scalable.

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