The guidance of endothelial cell organization into a capillary network has been a long-standing challenge in tissue engineering. Some research efforts have been made to develop methods to promote capillary networks inside engineered tissue constructs. Capillary and vascular networks that would mimic blood microvessel function can be used to subsequently facilitate oxygen and nutrient transfer as well as waste removal. Vascularization of engineering tissue construct is one of the most favorable strategies to overpass nutrient and oxygen supply limitation, which is often the major hurdle in developing thick and complex tissue and artificial organ. This paper addresses recent advances and future challenges in developing three-dimensional culture systems to promote tissue construct vascularization allowing mimicking blood microvessel development and function encountered in vivo. Bioreactors systems that have been used to create fully vascularized functional tissue constructs will also be outlined.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.