3D printing blood vessels

Researchers in Korea and Hong Kong have successfully implanted a fabricated biomimetic blood vessel into a living rat. According to the research This success is a promising route to construction of durable small-diameter vascular grafts and have to potential to be used in future cardiovascular disease treatments.

“The artificial blood vessel is an essential tool to save patients suffering from cardiovascular disease,” comments Ge Gao, an author on the paper. “There are products in clinical use made from polymers, but they don’t have living cells and vascular functions. We wanted to tissue-engineer a living, functional blood vessel graft.”

The researchers state that cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide and requires over one million vascular bypass/replacement surgeries annually in the United States alone.  This tissue engineering has been a promising approach to creating viable small-diameter vascular grafts which can be used to treat Cardiovascular disease.

As explained by the authors of the paper, they state: “To produce grafts with regular vascular functions, reconstruction of two critical constituents must be achieved, namely: (1) a confluent and quiescent endothelium offering a nonthrombogenic interface to inhibit thrombosis, and (2) contractile smooth muscle tissues that can withstand hemodynamic stress, exhibit physiological compliance, and adapt to local blood pressure changes via constriction and relaxation.”

The team turned to 3D printing to overcome these hurdles due to its ability to make organ equivalents. The team made a vascular-tissue-specific bio-ink from smooth muscle cells from a human aorta and endothelial cells from an umbilical vein. Combining his bio-ink with a triple-coaxial cell printing (RTCCP) technique allowed the team to print a functioning blood vessel “The developed triple-coaxial-cell-printing technique enabled the direct construction of vascular substitutes that contain both the endothelial and muscular layer,” explain the researchers.

The researchers grafted the vessel into a living rat and observed the rat’s fibroblasts formed a layer of connective tissue on the surface of the implant “These findings revealed that the vascular equivalent constructed using the presented technique is a promising choice for tissue-engineering small-diameter blood vessel grafts.”


Essop, Anas, et al. “Researchers in Asia Create Implantable Blood Vessels Using 3D Cell Printing.” 3D Printing Industry, 27 Apr. 2020, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/researchers-in-asia-create-implantable-blood-vessels-using-3d-cell-printing-171055/.