Vascularization is a major hurdle in complex tissue and organ engineering. Tissues greater than 200 μm in diameter cannot rely on simple diffusion to obtain nutrients and remove waste. Therefore, an integrated vascular network is required for clinical translation of engineered tissues. Microvessels have been described as <150 μm in diameter, but clinically they are defined as <1 mm. With new advances in super microsurgery, vessels less than 1 mm can be anastomosed to the recipient circulation. However, this technical advancement still relies on the creation of a stable engineered microcirculation that is amenable to surgical manipulation and is readily perfusable. Microvascular engineering lays on the crossroads of microfabrication, microfluidics, and tissue engineering strategies that utilize various cellular constituents. Early research focused on vascularization by co-culture and cellular interactions, with the addition of angiogenic growth factors to promote vascular growth. Since then, multiple strategies have been utilized taking advantage of innovations in additive manufacturing, biomaterials, and cell biology. However, the anatomy and dynamics of native blood vessels has not been consistently replicated. Inconsistent results can be partially attributed to cell sourcing which remains an enigma for microvascular engineering. Variations of endothelial cells, endothelial progenitor cells, and stem cells have all been used for microvascular network fabrication along with various mural cells. As each source offers advantages and disadvantages, there continues to be a lack of consensus. Furthermore, discord may be attributed to incomplete understanding about cell isolation and characterization without considering the microvascular architecture of the desired tissue/organ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-240
Number of pages23
JournalStem Cell Reviews and Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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