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High-throughput fabrication of vascularized spheroids for bioprinting

  • De Moor, Lise
  • Merovci, Idriz
  • Baetens, Sarah
  • Verstraeten, Julien
  • Kowalska, Paulina
  • Krysko, Dmitri
  • De Vos, Winnok
  • Declercq, Heidi
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2018
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Overcoming the problem of vascularization remains the main challenge in the field of tissue engineering. As three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting is the rising technique for the fabrication of large tissue constructs, small prevascularized building blocks were generated that can be incorporated throughout a printed construct, answering the need for a microvasculature within the small micron range (<10 mu m). Uniform spheroids with an ideal geometry and diameter for bioprinting were formed, using a high-throughput non-adhesive agarose microwell system. Since monoculture spheroids of endothelial cells were unable to remain stable, coculture spheroids combining endothelial cells with fibroblasts and/or adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSC) as supporting cells, were created. When applying the favorable coculture ratio, viable spheroids were obtained and endothelial cells spontaneously formed a capillary-like network and lumina, as shown by immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy. Especially the presence of ADSC led to a higher vascularization and extracellular matrix production of the microtissue. Moreover, spheroids were able to assemble at random in suspension and in a hydrogel, creating a macrotissue. During at random assembly, cells reorganized, creating a branched capillary-network throughout the entire fused construct by inoculating with capillaries of adjacent spheroids. Combining the advantage of this natural capacity of microtissues to self-assemble and the controlled organization by bioprinting technologies, these prevascularized spheroids can be useful as building blocks for the engineering of large vascularized 3D tissues.

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