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J Vis Exp. 2011 Jul 11;(53):e3065. doi: 10.3791/3065.

Bioengineering human microvascular networks in immunodeficient mice.

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1
Department of Cardiac Surgery, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, USA.

Abstract

The future of tissue engineering and cell-based therapies for tissue regeneration will likely rely on our ability to generate functional vascular networks in vivo. In this regard, the search for experimental models to build blood vessel networks in vivo is of utmost importance. The feasibility of bioengineering microvascular networks in vivo was first shown using human tissue-derived mature endothelial cells (ECs); however, such autologous endothelial cells present problems for wide clinical use, because they are difficult to obtain in sufficient quantities and require harvesting from existing vasculature. These limitations have instigated the search for other sources of ECs. The identification of endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) in blood presented an opportunity to non-invasively obtain ECs (5-7). We and other authors have shown that adult and cord blood-derived ECFCs have the capacity to form functional vascular networks in vivo. Importantly, these studies have also shown that to obtain stable and durable vascular networks, ECFCs require co-implantation with perivascular cells. The assay we describe here illustrates this concept: we show how human cord blood-derived ECFCs can be combined with bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a single cell suspension in a collagen/fibronectin/fibrinogen gel to form a functional human vascular network within 7 days after implantation into an immunodeficient mouse. The presence of human ECFC-lined lumens containing host erythrocytes can be seen throughout the implants indicating not only the formation (de novo) of a vascular network, but also the development of functional anastomoses with the host circulatory system. This murine model of bioengineered human vascular network is ideally suited for studies on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of human vascular network formation and for the development of strategies to vascularize engineered tissues.

PMID:
21775960
PMCID:
PMC3196173
DOI:
10.3791/3065
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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