Tissue engineered constructs containing tortuous endothelial cell-lined perfusion channels were formed by randomly assembling endothelial cell-seeded submillimeter-sized collagen cylinders (modules) into a microfluidic perfusion chamber. The interconnected void space produced by random module packing created flow channels that were lined with endothelial cells. The effect of perfusion (0.5 mL min(-1), Re( *) = 27.78 and shear stress = 0.16 dyn cm(-2)) through the tortuous channels on construct remodeling and endothelium quiescence was studied. Over time, modules fused at their points of contact and as they contracted, decreased the internal void space, which reduced the overall perfusion through the construct. As compared to static controls, perfusion caused a transient increase in activation (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression) after 1 h followed by a decrease after 24 h. Proliferation (by BrdU) was reduced significantly, while KLF2, which is upregulated with atheroprotective laminar shear stress, was upregulated significantly after 24 h. VE-cadherin became discontinuous and was significantly downregulated after 24 h, which was likely caused by the dismantling of the endothelial cell adherens junctions during remodeling. Collectively, these outcomes suggest that flow through the construct did not drive the endothelial cells towards an inflamed, "atherosclerotic like" disturbed flow pathology.
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