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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22086. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022086. Epub 2011 Jul 7.

Assessing the permeability of engineered capillary networks in a 3D culture.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America.

Abstract

Many pathologies are characterized by poor blood vessel growth and reduced nutrient delivery to the surrounding tissue, introducing a need for tissue engineered blood vessels. Our lab has developed a 3D co-culture method to grow interconnected networks of pericyte-invested capillaries, which can anastamose with host vasculature following implantation to restore blood flow to ischemic tissues. However, if the engineered vessels contain endothelial cells (ECs) that are misaligned or contain wide junctional gaps, they may function improperly and behave more like the pathologic vessels that nourish tumors. The purpose of this study was to test the resistance to permeability of these networks in vitro, grown with different stromal cell types, as a metric of vessel functionality. A fluorescent dextran tracer was used to visualize transport across the endothelium and the pixel intensity was quantified using a customized MATLAB algorithm. In fibroblast-EC co-cultures, the dextran tracer easily penetrated through the vessel wall and permeability was high through the first 5 days of culture, indicative of vessel immaturity. Beyond day 5, dextran accumulated at the periphery of the vessel, with very little transported across the endothelium. Quantitatively, permeability dropped from initial levels of 61% to 39% after 7 days, and to 7% after 2 weeks. When ECs were co-cultured with bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) or adipose-derived stem cells (AdSCs), much tighter control of permeability was achieved. Relative to the EC-fibroblast co-cultures, permeabilities were reduced 41% for the EC-MSC co-cultures and 50% for the EC-AdSC co-cultures after 3 days of culture. By day 14, these permeabilities decreased by 68% and 77% over the EC-fibroblast cultures. Co-cultures containing stem cells exhibit elevated VE-cadherin levels and more prominent EC-EC junctional complexes when compared to cultures containing fibroblasts. These data suggest the stromal cell identity influences the functionality and physiologic relevance of engineered capillary networks.

PMID:
21760956
PMCID:
PMC3131402
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0022086
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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