Synthetic vascular graft with spatially distinct architecture for rapid biomimetic cell organisation in a perfusion bioreactor

Praveesuda L. Michael, Nianji Yang, Matthew Moore, Miguel Santos, Yuen Ting Lam, Annabelle Ward, Jui Chien Hung, Richard P. Tan, Steven G. Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Access to lab-grown fully functional blood vessels would provide an invaluable resource to vascular medicine. The complex architecture and cellular makeup of native vessels, however, makes this extremely challenging to reproduce in vitro. Bioreactor systems have helped advanced research in this area by replicating many of the physiological conditions necessary for full-scale tissue growth outside of the body. A key element underpinning these technologies are 3D vascular graft templates which serve as temporary scaffolds to direct cell growth into similar cellular architectures observed in native vessels. Grafts further engineered with appropriate physical cues to accommodate the multiple cell types that reside within native vessels may help improve the production efficiency and physiological accuracy of bioreactor-grown vessel substitutes. Here, we engineered two distinct scaffold architectures into an electrospun vascular graft aiming to encourage the spatial organisation of human vascular endothelial cells (hCAECs) in a continuous luminal monolayer, co-cultured with human fibroblasts (hFBs) populating the graft wall. Using an electrospun composite of polycaprolactone and gelatin, we evaluated physical parameters including fibre diameter, fibre alignment, and porosity, that best mimicked the spatial composition and growth of hCAECs and hFBs in native vessels. Upon identifying the optimal scaffold architectures for each cell type, we constructed a custom-designed mandrel that combined these distinct architectures into a single vascular graft during a single electrospinning processing run. When connected to a perfusion bioreactor system, the dual architecture graft spatially oriented hCAECs and hFBs into the graft wall and lumen, respectively, directly from circulation. This biomimetic cell organisation was consistent with positive graft remodelling with significant collagen deposition in the graft wall. These findings demonstrate the influence of architectural cues to direct cell growth within vascular graft templates and the future potential of these approaches to more accurately and efficiency produce blood vessel substitutes in bioreactor systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045001
Number of pages14
JournalBiomedical Materials (Bristol)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • electrospinning
  • nanotopography
  • perfusion bioreactor
  • scaffold architecture
  • vascular graft

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