Researchers Develop New Method for Biomanufacturing of Vascularized Tissue (Biology)

Vascularized structures infiltrated within nanofibrous extracellular matrix (ECM) play vital roles in maintaining functions and metabolisms of tissue and organs. Nanofibrous scaffolds are promising in tissue engineering owing to their ECM-mimicking architectures.  

The vascularization of nanofibrous scaffolds remains challenging because of the difficulty in three-dimensional (3D) infiltration and incorporation of vascular endothelial cells within nanofibrous scaffolds. 

Dr. ZHAO Qilong’s group from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Prof. WANG Min’s group from the University of Hong Kong, proposed a new method for biomanufacturing of vascularized tissue. The study was published in Acta Biomaterialia on Jan 27.  

The proposed method could directly place living endothelial cells within bioactive nanofibrous scaffolds in 3D through concurrent emulsion electrospinning and coaxial cell electrospraying.

Endothelial cells were encapsulated in hydrogel microspheres and deposited along with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-containing nanofibers in the scaffold fabrication process, resulting in nanofibrous scaffolds with 3D embedded cell-encapsulated microspheres. 

“After selective disruption of the hydrogel microspheres, the encapsulated endothelial cells are released, yielding bioactive nanofibrous scaffolds with tissue-like 3D cell-incorporated nanofibrous structures,” said Dr. ZHAO. 

As for the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) of the cells in the hydrogel microspheres after the cell electrospraying and in the scaffolds after the cell release treatment, there were no significantly changes in compared to the cells normally cultured on the scaffolds. 

Furthermore, the researchers found that endothelial cells could freely stretch, display enhanced intercellular connections, and maintain the phenotype in the bioactive nanofibrous scaffolds, indicating improved vascularization potential. 

This study opens a new avenue for biomanufacturing of tissue-mimicking constructs with vascularized structures. 

Featured image: A schematic diagram showing processes of the new method (Image by SIAT)

Reference: Qilong Zhao, Yu Zhou, Min Wang, Three-dimensional endothelial cell incorporation within bioactive nanofibrous scaffolds through concurrent emulsion electrospinning and coaxial cell electrospraying, Acta Biomaterialia, 2021, , ISSN 1742-7061, (

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences

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