Journal article

Engineered blood and lymphatic capillaries in 3-D VEGF-fibrin-collagen matrices with interstitial flow

In vitro endothelial cell organization into capillaries is a long standing challenge of tissue engineering. We recently showed the utility of low level interstitial flow in guiding the organization of endothelial cells through a 3-D fibrin matrix-containing covalently bound vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Here this synergistic phenomenon was extended to explore the effects of matrix composition on in vitro capillary morphogenesis of human blood versus lymphatic endothelial cells (BECs and LECs). Different mixtures of fibrin and collagen were used in conjunction with constant concentrations of matrix-bound VEGF and slow interstitial flow over 10 days. Interestingly, the BECs and LECs each showed a distinct preference in terms of organization for matrix composition: LECs organized the most extensively in a fibrin-only matrix, while BEC organization was optimized in the compliant collagen-containing matrices. Furthermore, the BECs and LECs produced architecturally different structures; while BECs organized in thick, branched networks containing wide lumen, the LECs were elongated into slender, overlapping networks with fine lumen. These data demonstrate the importance of the 3-D matrix composition in facilitating and coordinating BEC and LEC capillary morphogenesis, which is important for in vitro vascularization of engineered tissues.

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