In vitro study of directly bioprinted perfusable vasculature conduits
The ability to create three dimensional (3D) thick tissues is still a major tissue engineering challenge. It requires the development of a suitable vascular supply for an efficient media exchange. An integrated vasculature network is particularly needed when building thick functional tissues and/or organs with high metabolic activities, such as the heart, liver and pancreas. In this work, human umbilical vein smooth muscle cells (HUVSMCs) were encapsulated in sodium alginate and printed in the form of vasculature conduits using a coaxial deposition system. Detailed investigations were performed to understand the dehydration, swelling and degradation characteristics of printed conduits. In addition, because perfusional, permeable and mechanical properties are unique characteristics of natural blood vessels, for printed conduits these properties were also explored in this work. The results show that cells encapsulated in conduits had good proliferation activities and that their viability increased during prolonged in vitro culture. Deposition of smooth muscle matrix and collagen was observed around the peripheral and luminal surface in long-term cultured cellular vascular conduit through histology studies.