Micropatterning of endothelial cells to create a capillary-like network with defined architecture by laser-assisted bioprinting

J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2019 Feb 12;30(2):28. doi: 10.1007/s10856-019-6230-1.


Development of a microvasculature into tissue-engineered bone substitutes represents a current challenge. Seeding of endothelial cells in an appropriate environment can give rise to a capillary-like network to enhance prevascularization of bone substitutes. Advances in biofabrication techniques, such as bioprinting, could allow to precisely define a pattern of endothelial cells onto a biomaterial suitable for in vivo applications. The aim of this study was to produce a microvascular network following a defined pattern and preserve it while preparing the surface to print another layer of endothelial cells. We first optimise the bioink cell concentration and laser printing parameters and then develop a method to allow endothelial cells to survive between two collagen layers. Laser-assisted bioprinting (LAB) was used to pattern lines of tdTomato-labeled endothelial cells cocultured with mesenchymal stem cells seeded onto a collagen hydrogel. Formation of capillary-like structures was dependent on a sufficient local density of endothelial cells. Overlay of the pattern with collagen I hydrogel containing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) allowed capillary-like structures formation and preservation of the printed pattern over time. Results indicate that laser-assisted bioprinting is a valuable technique to pre-organize endothelial cells into high cell density pattern in order to create a vascular network with defined architecture in tissue-engineered constructs based on collagen hydrogel.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Bioprinting*
  • Cell Line
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Collagen / chemistry*
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lasers
  • Mice
  • Molar
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / chemistry


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Hydrogels
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Collagen