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Blood-vessel mimicking structures by stereolithographic fabrication of small porous tubes using cytocompatible polyacrylate elastomers, biofunctionalization and endothelialization

: Huber, B.; Engelhardt, S.; Meyer, W.; Krüger, H.; Wenz, A.; Schönhaar, V.; Tovar, G.E.M.; Kluger, P.J.; Borchers, K.

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Journal of Functional Biomaterials 7 (2016), No.2, Art. 11, 18 pp.
ISSN: 2079-4983
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IAP ()
Fraunhofer IGB ()

Blood vessel reconstruction is still an elusive goal for the development of in vitro models as well as artificial vascular grafts. In this study, we used a novel photo-curable cytocompatible polyacrylate material (PA) for freeform generation of synthetic vessels. We applied stereolithography for the fabrication of arbitrary 3D tubular structures with total dimensions in the centimeter range, 300 µm wall thickness, inner diameters of 1 to 2 mm and defined pores with a constant diameter of approximately 100 µm or 200 µm. We established a rinsing protocol to remove remaining cytotoxic substances from the photo-cured PA and applied thio-modified heparin and RGDC-peptides to functionalize the PA surface for enhanced endothelial cell adhesion. A rotating seeding procedure was introduced to ensure homogenous endothelial monolayer formation at the inner luminal tube wall. We showed that endothelial cells stayed viable and adherent and aligned along the medium flow under fluid-flow conditions comparable to native capillaries. The combined technology approach comprising of freeform additive manufacturing (AM), biomimetic design, cytocompatible materials which are applicable to AM, and biofunctionalization of AM constructs has been introduced as BioRap® technology by the authors.