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Customizable engineered blood vessels using 3D printed inserts
- Pinnock, Cameron B., Meier, Elizabeth M., Joshi, Neeraj N., Wu, Bin, Lam, Mai T.
- Methods 2016 v.99 pp. 20-27
- arteries, drugs, fibrin, gels, humans, hydrocolloids, models, myocytes, smooth muscle, therapeutics, tissue culture, tissue engineering
- Current techniques for tissue engineering blood vessels are not customizable for vascular size variation and vessel wall thickness. These critical parameters vary widely between the different arteries in the human body, and the ability to engineer vessels of varying sizes could increase capabilities for disease modeling and treatment options. We present an innovative method for producing customizable, tissue engineered, self-organizing vascular constructs by replicating a major structural component of blood vessels – the smooth muscle layer, or tunica media. We utilize a unique system combining 3D printed plate inserts to control construct size and shape, and cell sheets supported by a temporary fibrin hydrogel to encourage cellular self-organization into a tubular form resembling a natural artery. To form the vascular construct, 3D printed inserts are adhered to tissue culture plates, fibrin hydrogel is deposited around the inserts, and human aortic smooth muscle cells are then seeded atop the fibrin hydrogel. The gel, aided by the innate contractile properties of the smooth muscle cells, aggregates towards the center post insert, creating a tissue ring of smooth muscle cells. These rings are then stacked into the final tubular construct. Our methodology is robust, easily repeatable and allows for customization of cellular composition, vessel wall thickness, and length of the vessel construct merely by varying the size of the 3D printed inserts. This platform has potential for facilitating more accurate modeling of vascular pathology, serving as a drug discovery tool, or for vessel repair in disease treatment.