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Adv Funct Mater. 2012 Nov 7;22(21):4511-4518.

Integration of Self-Assembled Microvascular Networks with Microfabricated PEG-Based Hydrogels.

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Department of Bioengineering-MS 142 6100 Main St., Houston, TX 77005 USA.


Despite tremendous efforts, tissue engineered constructs are restricted to thin, simple tissues sustained only by diffusion. The most significant barrier in tissue engineering is insufficient vascularization to deliver nutrients and metabolites during development in vitro and to facilitate rapid vascular integration in vivo. Tissue engineered constructs can be greatly improved by developing perfusable microvascular networks in vitro in order to provide transport that mimics native vascular organization and function. Here a microfluidic hydrogel is integrated with a self-assembling pro-vasculogenic co-culture in a strategy to perfuse microvascular networks in vitro. This approach allows for control over microvascular network self-assembly and employs an anastomotic interface for integration of self-assembled micro-vascular networks with fabricated microchannels. As a result, transport within the system shifts from simple diffusion to vessel supported convective transport and extra-vessel diffusion, thus improving overall mass transport properties. This work impacts the development of perfusable prevascularized tissues in vitro and ultimately tissue engineering applications in vivo.

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