A. V. Koroleva
A. Deiwick
A. Nguyen
R. J. Narayan
A. I. Shpichka
O. Kufelt
R. V. Kiyan
V. N. Bagratashvili
P. S. Timashev
T. Scheper
B. N. Chichkov

Hydrogel-based microfluidics for vascular tissue engineering

Type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz (reviewed)
In this work, we have explored 3-D co-culture of vasculogenic cells within a synthetically modified fibrin hydrogel. Fibrinogen was covalently linked with PEG-NHS in order to improve its degradability resistance and physico-optical properties. We have studied influences of the degree of protein PEGylation and the concentration of enzyme thrombin used for the gel preparation on cellular responses. Scanning electron microscopy analysis of prepared gels revealed that the degree of PEGylation and the concentration of thrombin strongly influenced microstructural characteristics of the protein hydrogel. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs), used as vasculogenic co-culture, could grow in 5:1 PEGylated fibrin gels prepared using 1:0.2 protein to thrombin ratio. This gel formulation supported hASCs and HUVECs spreading and the formation of cell extensions and cell-to-cell contacts. Expression of specific ECM proteins and vasculogenic process inherent cellular enzymatic activity were investigated by immunofluorescent staining, gelatin zymography, western blot and RT-PCR analysis. After evaluation of the optimal gel composition and PEGylation ratio, the hydrogel was utilized for investigation of vascular tube formation within a perfusable microfluidic system. The morphological development of this co-culture within a perfused hydrogel over 12 days led to the formation of interconnected HUVEC-hASC network. The demonstrated PEGylated fibrin microfluidic approach can be used for incorporating other cell types, thus representing a unique experimental platform for basic vascular tissue engineering and drug screening applications.