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Ann Biomed Eng. 2014 Jul;42(7):1470-81. doi: 10.1007/s10439-013-0883-6. Epub 2013 Aug 14.

Cellularized microcarriers as adhesive building blocks for fabrication of tubular tissue constructs.

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Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology, Medical University of South Carolina, 173 Ashley Avenue, BSB 653, Charleston, SC, 29425, USA.


To meet demands of vascular reconstruction, there is a need for prosthetic alternatives to natural blood vessels. Here we explored a new conduit fabrication approach. Macroporous, gelatin microcarriers laden with human umbilical vein endothelial cells and aortic smooth muscle cells were dispensed into tubular agarose molds and found to adhere to form living tubular tissues. The ability of cellularized microcarriers to adhere to one another involved cellular and extracellular matrix bridging that included the formation of epithelium-like cell layers lining the lumenal and ablumenal surfaces of the constructs and the deposition of collagen and elastin fibers. The tubular tissues behaved as elastic solids, with a uniaxial mechanical response that is qualitatively similar to that of native vascular tissues and consistent with their elastin and collagen composition. Linearized measures of the mechanical response of the fabricated tubular tissues at both low and high strains were observed to increase with duration of static culture, with no significant loss of stiffness following decellularization. The findings highlight the utility of cellularized macroporous gelatin microcarriers as self-adhering building blocks for the fabrication of living tubular structures.

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