Generation of model tissues with dendritic vascular networks via sacrificial laser-sintered carbohydrate templates

Nat Biomed Eng. 2020 Sep;4(9):916-932. doi: 10.1038/s41551-020-0566-1. Epub 2020 Jun 29.


Sacrificial templates for patterning perfusable vascular networks in engineered tissues have been constrained in architectural complexity, owing to the limitations of extrusion-based 3D printing techniques. Here, we show that cell-laden hydrogels can be patterned with algorithmically generated dendritic vessel networks and other complex hierarchical networks by using sacrificial templates made from laser-sintered carbohydrate powders. We quantified and modulated gradients of cell proliferation and cell metabolism emerging in response to fluid convection through these networks and to diffusion of oxygen and metabolites out of them. We also show scalable strategies for the fabrication, perfusion culture and volumetric analysis of large tissue-like constructs with complex and heterogeneous internal vascular architectures. Perfusable dendritic networks in cell-laden hydrogels may help sustain thick and densely cellularized engineered tissues, and assist interrogations of the interplay between mass transport and tissue function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Vessels / cytology*
  • Blood Vessels / physiology
  • Carbohydrates / chemistry*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Equipment Design
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Perfusion
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Tissue Engineering / instrumentation
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*


  • Carbohydrates
  • Hydrogels