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Biotechnology - Physiology

Engineering of In Vitro 3D Capillary Beds by Self-Directed Angiogenic Sprouting
Published: Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Author: Juliana M. Chan et al.

by Juliana M. Chan, Ioannis K. Zervantonakis, Tharathorn Rimchala, William J. Polacheck, Jordan Whisler, Roger D. Kamm

In recent years, microfluidic systems have been used to study fundamental aspects of angiogenesis through the patterning of single-layered, linear or geometric vascular channels. In vivo, however, capillaries exist in complex, three-dimensional (3D) networks, and angiogenic sprouting occurs with a degree of unpredictability in all x,y,z planes. The ability to generate capillary beds in vitro that can support thick, biological tissues remains a key challenge to the regeneration of vital organs. Here, we report the engineering of 3D capillary beds in an in vitro microfluidic platform that is comprised of a biocompatible collagen I gel supported by a mechanical framework of alginate beads. The engineered vessels have patent lumens, form robust ~1.5 mm capillary networks across the devices, and support the perfusion of 1 ┬Ám fluorescent beads through them. In addition, the alginate beads offer a modular method to encapsulate and co-culture cells that either promote angiogenesis or require perfusion for cell viability in engineered tissue constructs. This laboratory-constructed vascular supply may be clinically significant for the engineering of capillary beds and higher order biological tissues in a scalable and modular manner.