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Biomaterials. 2011 Oct;32(30):7479-90. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.06.034. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

SAM-based cell transfer to photopatterned hydrogels for microengineering vascular-like structures.

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Center for Biomedical Engineering, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


A major challenge in tissue engineering is to reproduce the native 3D microvascular architecture fundamental for in vivo functions. Current approaches still lack a network of perfusable vessels with native 3D structural organization. Here we present a new method combining self-assembled monolayer (SAM)-based cell transfer and gelatin methacrylate hydrogel photopatterning techniques for microengineering vascular structures. Human umbilical vein cell (HUVEC) transfer from oligopeptide SAM-coated surfaces to the hydrogel revealed two SAM desorption mechanisms: photoinduced and electrochemically triggered. The former, occurs concomitantly to hydrogel photocrosslinking, and resulted in efficient (>97%) monolayer transfer. The latter, prompted by additional potential application, preserved cell morphology and maintained high transfer efficiency of VE-cadherin positive monolayers over longer culture periods. This approach was also applied to transfer HUVECs to 3D geometrically defined vascular-like structures in hydrogels, which were then maintained in perfusion culture for 15 days. As a step toward more complex constructs, a cell-laden hydrogel layer was photopatterned around the endothelialized channel to mimic the vascular smooth muscle structure of distal arterioles. This study shows that the coupling of the SAM-based cell transfer and hydrogel photocrosslinking could potentially open up new avenues in engineering more complex, vascularized tissue constructs for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering applications.

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