Vascularization of three-dimensional engineered tissues for regenerative medicine applications

Acta Biomater. 2016 Sep 1;41:17-26. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2016.06.001. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


Engineering of three-dimensional (3D) tissues is a promising approach for restoring diseased or dysfunctional myocardium with a functional replacement. However, a major bottleneck in this field is the lack of efficient vascularization strategies, because tissue constructs produced in vitro require a constant flow of oxygen and nutrients to maintain viability and functionality. Compared to angiogenic cell therapy and growth factor treatment, bioengineering approaches such as spatial micropatterning, integration of sacrificial materials, tissue decellularization, and 3D bioprinting enable the generation of more precisely controllable neovessel formation. In this review, we summarize the state-of-the-art approaches to develop 3D tissue engineered constructs with vasculature, and demonstrate how some of these techniques have been applied towards regenerative medicine for treatment of heart failure.

Statement of significance: Tissue engineering is a promising approach to replace or restore dysfunctional tissues/organs, but a major bottleneck in realizing its potential is the challenge of creating scalable 3D tissues. Since most 3D engineered tissues require a constant supply of nutrients, it is necessary to integrate functional vasculature within the tissues in order to facilitate the transport of nutrients. To address these needs, researchers are employing biomaterial engineering and design strategies to foster vessel formation within 3D tissues. This review highlights the state-of-the-art bioengineering tools and technologies to create vascularized 3D tissues for clinical applications in regenerative medicine, highlighting the application of these technologies to engineer vascularized cardiac patches for treatment of heart failure.

Keywords: 3D bioprinting; Biomaterials; Cardiac engineering; Endothelial cell; Extracellular matrix; Tissue engineering; Vascularization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic*
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Regenerative Medicine / methods*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Biocompatible Materials