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Stem Cells International
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 547247, 6 pages
Research Article

Vascular Guidance: Microstructural Scaffold Patterning for Inductive Neovascularization

1Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Handsurgery, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, 80333 München, Germany
2Department of Plastic Surgery, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
3Division of Plastic Surgery and Bioengineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119077
4Zentrum für Stammzellbiologie und Biotechnologie, Universität Leipzig, Germany
5Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QJ, UK

Received 4 August 2010; Accepted 18 August 2010

Academic Editor: Zongjin Li

Copyright © 2011 Daniel Muller et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Current tissue engineering techniques are limited by inadequate vascularisation and perfusion of cell-scaffold constructs. Microstructural patterning through biomimetic vascular channels within a polymer scaffold might induce neovascularization, allowing fabrication of large engineered constructs. The network of vascular channels within a frontal-parietal defect in a patient, originating from the anterior branch of the middle meningeal artery, was modeled using computer-aided design (CAD) techniques and subsequently incorporated into polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds fabricated using fused deposition modeling (FDM). Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were seeded onto the scaffolds and implanted into a rat model, with an arteriovenous bundle inserted at the proximal extent of the vascular network. After 3 weeks, scaffolds were elevated as a prefabricated composite tissue-polymer flap and transferred using microsurgical technique. Histological examination of explanted scaffolds revealed vascular ingrowth along patterned channels, with abundant capillary and connective tissue formation throughout experimental scaffolds, while control scaffolds showed only granulation tissue. All prefabricated constructs transferred as free flaps survived and were viable. We term this concept “vascular guidance,” whereby neovascularization is guided through customized channels in a scaffold. Our technique might potentially allow fabrication of much larger tissue-engineered constructs than current technologies allow, as well as allowing tailored construct fabrication with a patient-specific vessel network based on CT scan data and CAD technology.