Directing the assembly of spatially organized multicomponent tissues from the bottom up

Trends Cell Biol. 2012 Dec;22(12):683-91. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2012.09.004. Epub 2012 Oct 12.


The complexity of the human body derives from numerous modular building blocks assembled hierarchically across multiple length scales. These building blocks, spanning sizes ranging from single cells to organs, interact to regulate development and normal organismal function but become disorganized during disease. Here, we review methods for the bottom-up and directed assembly of modular, multicellular, and tissue-like constructs in vitro. These engineered tissues will help refine our understanding of the relationship between form and function in the human body, provide new models for the breakdown in tissue architecture that accompanies disease, and serve as building blocks for the field of regenerative medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Movement
  • Cellular Microenvironment
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / metabolism
  • Intercellular Junctions / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Human / cytology
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism
  • Paracrine Communication
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Hydrogels