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Biomaterials. 2017 Jul;133:20-28. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.04.008. Epub 2017 Apr 9.

Glucose-sensitive self-healing hydrogel as sacrificial materials to fabricate vascularized constructs.

Author information

Institute of Polymer Science and Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Institute for Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
The Key Laboratory of Bioorganic Phosphorus Chemistry & Chemical Biology (Ministry of Education), Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
Institute of Polymer Science and Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan; Institute of Cellular and System Medicine, National Health Research Institutes, Miaoli, Taiwan. Electronic address:


A major challenge in tissue engineering is the lack of proper vascularization. Although various approaches have been used to build vascular network in a tissue engineering construct, there remain some drawbacks. Herein, a glucose-sensitive self-healing hydrogel are employed as sacrificial materials to fabricate branched tubular channels within a construct. The hydrogel composes of mainly reversibly crosslinked poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate and dithiothreitol with borax as the glucose-sensitive motif. The hydrogel is injectable and mechanically strong after injection. Moreover, it can be rapidly removed by immersion in the cell culture medium. To show the feasibility in building a vascularized tissue construct, the designed branching vascular patterns of the glucose-sensitive hydrogel are extruded and embedded in a non glucose-sensitive hydrogel containing neural stem cells. Vascular endothelial cells seeded in the lumen of the channels by perfusion can line the channel wall and migrate into the non-sacrificial hydrogel after 3 days. In long-term (∼14 days), the endothelial cells form capillary-like structure (vascular network) while neural stem cells form neurosphere-like structure (neural development) in the construct, revealing the morphology of "a vascularized neural tissue". The novel sacrificial materials can create complicated but easily removable structure for building a vascularized tissue construct particularly a neurovascular unit.


Angiogenesis; Glucose sensitivity; Neurovascular unit; Self-healing hydrogel; Vascularization

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