Editors' ChoiceVascular Biology

Engineering Connections

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Science Translational Medicine  09 Nov 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 108, pp. 108ec183
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003405

Organ transplantation for damaged tissues and failing organs is limited by the supply of matched donor organs. One way to fill this gap is through bioengineering. However, sustainability of bioengineered constructs has, up to this point, been limited to thin or avascular tissue such as skin and cartilage, in which diffusion of oxygen and nutrients are sufficient for cell survival. Functional integration of a vascular source into a bioengineered construct would open the door to a world of possibilities for bioengineered tissues. Now, Kang et al. successfully integrate cell-seeded bioengineered tissues into host vascular networks.

Kang et al. first constructed a network of functional blood vessels by transplanting endothelial and mesenchymal progenitor cells suspended in Matrigel, which resembles the complex extracellular environment found in many tissues, into the subcutaneous tissue of immunodeficient mice. Then, they transferred the resultant rich network of human and mouse chimeric blood vessels into another recipient mouse. They found that the previously constructed vascular network reconnected with vessels within the recipient. These vessels were functional as well: Perfusion was restored at day 3 after transplantation and increased with time.

Traditionally, these types of microvascular connections had been left to the microsurgeons, but now it seems as though the bioengineers are capable of microvascular connections on the cellular level. The availability of chimeric networks of blood vessels that can reconnect and function after transplantation should greatly expand the capacity to use cell-based therapies for transplantable tissue-engineered organs. This study brings bioengineered organs one step closer to the clinic.

K.-T. Kang et al., Bioengineered human vascular networks transplanted into secondary mice reconnect with the host vasculature and re-estabish perfusion. Blood, 28 October 2011 (10.1182/blood-2011-08-375188). [Abstract]

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