Advances in tissue engineering of blood vessels and other tissues

Transpl Immunol. 1997 Dec;5(4):303-6. doi: 10.1016/s0966-3274(97)80013-5.


Tissue engineering is a new and rapidly expanding field, in which techniques are being developed for culturing a variety of tissues both in vitro and in vivo using polymer 'scaffolds' to support tissue growth. Polymer scaffolds used in tissue engineering are generally biodegradable, often involving compounds which are already approved for human implantation. In some cases, these polymers may be chemically modified to exhibit selective cell adhesion properties, which enhance cell attachment and subsequent tissue growth. Many cell types have been successfully cultured on these scaffolds, including smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells, hepatocytes and chondrocytes. Tissue engineering holds the potential for the in vitro development of autologous or allogeneic transplantable vascular conduits. Each year in the USA, there are approximately 1.4 million procedures performed which require arterial prostheses. Most of these procedures are in small calibre (< 6 mm) vessels, for which synthetic graft materials are not generally suitable. While autologous venous or arterial vessels are generally used, not all patients possess adequate conduit for revascularization. Tubular scaffolds have been specially designed for culturing small calibre arteries in vitro. Bovine aortic vascular cells were seeded and cultured on these polymer scaffolds, and grown under conditions of pulsatile pressure and intra-luminal flow. To minimize contamination during the weeks of tissue culture required to produce an arterial prosthesis, a sterile incubator system was developed. Preliminary studies have achieved good cell densities of both smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells on biodegradable polymer scaffolds.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering / economics*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis*
  • Blood Vessels / chemistry
  • Blood Vessels / physiology*
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Techniques
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid* / chemistry
  • Polyesters
  • Polyglycolic Acid* / chemistry
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polymers* / chemistry


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polyesters
  • Polymers
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • poly(lactide)