Each year, hundreds of thousands of patients undergo coronary artery bypass surgery in the United States.1 Approximately one third of these patients do not have suitable autologous donor vessels due to disease progression or previous harvest. The aim of vascular tissue engineering is to develop a suitable alternative source for these bypass grafts. In addition, engineered vascular tissue may prove valuable as living vascular models to study cardiovascular diseases. Several promising approaches to engineering blood vessels have been explored, with many recent studies focusing on development and analysis of cell-based methods.2-5 Herein, we present a method to rapidly self-assemble cells into 3D tissue rings that can be used in vitro to model vascular tissues. To do this, suspensions of smooth muscle cells are seeded into round-bottomed annular agarose wells. The non-adhesive properties of the agarose allow the cells to settle, aggregate and contract around a post at the center of the well to form a cohesive tissue ring.6,7 These rings can be cultured for several days prior to harvesting for mechanical, physiological, biochemical, or histological analysis. We have shown that these cell-derived tissue rings yield at 100-500 kPa ultimate tensile strength8 which exceeds the value reported for other tissue engineered vascular constructs cultured for similar durations (<30 kPa).9,10 Our results demonstrate that robust cell-derived vascular tissue ring generation can be achieved within a short time period, and offers the opportunity for direct and quantitative assessment of the contributions of cells and cell-derived matrix (CDM) to vascular tissue structure and function.
Gwyther, T. A., Hu, J. Z., Billiar, K. L., & Rolle, M. W. (2011). Directed Cellular Self-Assembly to Fabricate Cell-Derived Tissue Rings for Biomechanical Analysis and Tissue Engineering. Journal of Visualized Experiments, (57). https://doi.org/10.3791/3366
*denotes a WPI undergraduate student author