The goal of this study was to develop a system to rapidly generate engineered tissue constructs from aggregated cells and cell-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) to enable evaluation of cell-derived tissue structure and function. Rat aortic smooth muscle cells seeded into annular agarose wells (2, 4 or 6 mm inside diameter) aggregated and formed thick tissue rings within 2 weeks of static culture (0.76 mm at 8 days; 0.94 mm at 14 days). Overall, cells appeared healthy and surrounded by ECM comprised of glycosoaminoglycans and collagen, although signs of necrosis were observed near the centers of the thickest rings. Tissue ring strength and stiffness values were superior to those reported for engineered tissue constructs cultured for comparable times. The strength (100–500 kPa) and modulus (0.5–2 MPa) of tissue rings increased with ring size and decreased with culture duration. Finally, tissue rings cultured for 7 days on silicone mandrels fused to form tubular constructs. Ring margins were visible after 7 days, but tubes were cohesive and mechanically stable, and histological examination confirmed fusion between ring subunits. This unique system provides a versatile new tool for optimization and functional assessment of cell-derived tissue, and a new approach to creating tissue-engineered vascular grafts.
Gwyther, T. A., Hu, J. Z., Christakis, A. G., Skorinko, J. K., Shaw, S. M., Billiar, K. L., & Rolle, M. W. (2011). Engineered Vascular Tissue Fabricated from Aggregated Smooth Muscle Cells. Cells Tissues Organs, 194(1), 13–24. https://doi.org/10.1159/000322554
*denotes a WPI undergraduate student author