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Multi-casting approach for vascular networks in cellularized hydrogels

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Justin, AW 
Brooks, RA 
Markaki, AE 


Vascularization is essential for living tissue and remains a major challenge in the field of tissue engineering. A lack of a perfusable channel network within a large and densely populated tissue engineered construct leads to necrotic core formation, preventing fabrication of functional tissues and organs. We report a new method for producing a hierarchical, three-dimensional (3D) and perfusable vasculature in a large, cellularized fibrin hydrogel. Bifurcating channels, varying in size from 1 mm to 200-250 µm, are formed using a novel process in which we convert a 3D printed thermoplastic material into a gelatin network template, by way of an intermediate alginate hydrogel. This enables a CAD-based model design, which is highly customizable, reproducible, and which can yield highly complex architectures, to be made into a removable material, which can be used in cellular environments. Our approach yields constructs with a uniform and high density of cells in the bulk, made from bioactive collagen and fibrin hydrogels. Using standard cell staining and immuno-histochemistry techniques, we showed good cell seeding and the presence of tight junctions between channel endothelial cells, and high cell viability and cell spreading in the bulk hydrogel.



vascularization, three-dimensional printing, vascular networks, hydrogel

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Journal of the Royal Society Interface

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Royal Society Publishing
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L504920/1)
European Research Council (240446)
This research was supported by the European Research Council (ERC, grant no. 240446), and an Engineering for Clinical Practice Grant from the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge. A.W.J. acknowledges the support of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through a PhD studentship (EP/L504920/1). R.A.B. gratefully acknowledges financial support from the National Institute for Health Research.