Microfabrication of AngioChip, a biodegradable polymer scaffold with microfluidic vasculature
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Microengineered biomimetic systems for organ-on-a-chip or tissue engineering purposes often fail as a result of an inability to recapitulate the in vivo environment, specifically the presence of a well-defined vascular system. To address this limitation, we developed an alternative method to cultivate three-dimensional (3D) tissues by incorporating a microfabricated scaffold, termed AngioChip, with a built-in perfusable vascular network. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for fabricating the AngioChip scaffold, populating it with endothelial cells and parenchymal tissues, and applying it in organ-on-a-chip drug testing in vitro and surgical vascular anastomosis in vivo. The fabrication of the AngioChip scaffold is achieved by a 3D stamping technique, in which an intricate microchannel network can be embedded within a 3D scaffold. To develop a vascularized tissue, endothelial cells are cultured in the lumen of the AngioChip network, and parenchymal cells are encapsulated in hydrogels that are amenable to remodeling around the vascular network to form functional tissues. Together, these steps yield a functional, vascularized network in vitro over a 14-d period. Finally, we demonstrate the functionality of AngioChip-vascularized hepatic and cardiac tissues, and describe direct surgical anastomosis of the AngioChip vascular network on the hind limb of a Lewis rat model.
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