The primary function of vascular networks is to transport blood and deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues, which occurs at the interface of the microvasculature. Therefore, the formation of the vessels at the microcirculatory level, or angiogenesis, is critical for tissue regeneration and repair. Current strategies for vascularization of engineered tissues have incorporated multi-disciplinary approaches including engineered biomaterials, cells and angiogenic factors. Pre-vascularization of scaffolds composed of native matrix, synthetic polymers, or other biological materials can be achieved through the use of single cells in mono or co-culture, in combination or not with angiogenic factors or by the use of isolated vessels. The advance of these methods, together with a growing understanding of the biology behind vascularization, has facilitated the development of vascularization strategies for engineered tissues with therapeutic potential for tissue regeneration and repair. Here, we review the different cell-based strategies utilized to pre-vascularize engineered tissues and in making more complex vascularized cardiac tissues for regenerative medicine applications.
Keywords: Angiogenesis; Cardiac regeneration; Cardiomyocytes; Endothelial cells; Stem cells; Tissue engineering; Vascularization; Vessels.
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