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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2012 Sep;100(9):2302-11. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.34172. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Three-dimensional vascularization of electrospun PCL/collagen-blend nanofibrous scaffolds in vivo.

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Department of Plastic and Hand Surgery, University Hospital of Erlangen, Friedrich- Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.


Nanofiber scaffolds have proven their various advantages for tissue engineering and have been analyzed extensively. However, to date the three-dimensional pattern of vascularization inside nanofibrous scaffolds is unknown. This study introduces a novel method to visualize and quantify vascularization of electrospun nanofibrous PCL/collagen scaffolds in 3D in vivo. Randomly spun PCL/collagen blend and parallel aligned PCL/collagen blend/PEO scaffolds were analyzed for numbers and patterns of sprouting vessels inside the constructs using microCT scans at different time points. The image data derived from the microCT scans was converted into three-dimensional vessel trees. The aligned scaffold showed a significantly smaller number of sprouting vessels but vascularization in the center of the constructs occurred considerably earlier than in the nonwoven scaffold. Thus, for the first time the actual pattern of vascularization in nanofibrous scaffolds can be visualized three-dimensionally. These results demonstrate that the 3D pattern of vessel trees could be an essential parameter to evaluate nanofiber scaffolds for their suitability for tissue engineering as well as in vivo applications in general.

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