Tissue-transplant fusion and vascularization of myocardial microtissues and macrotissues implanted into chicken embryos and rats

Jens M. Kelm, Valentin Djonov, Simon P. Hoerstrup, Christina I. Guenter, Lars M. Ittner, Frauke Greve, Andreas Hierlemann, Carlota Diaz Sanchez-Bustamante, Jean Claude Perriard, Elisabeth Ehler, Martin Fussenegger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Cell-based therapies and tissue engineering initiatives are gathering clinical momentum for next-generation treatment of tissue deficiencies. By using gravity-enforced self-assembly of monodispersed primary cells, we have produced adult and neonatal rat cardiomyocyte-based myocardial microtissues that could optionally be vascularized following coating with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Within myocardial microtissues, individual cardiomyocytes showed native-like cell shape and structure, and established electrochemical coupling via intercalated disks. This resulted in the coordinated beating of microtissues, which was recorded by means of a multi-electrode complementary metal-oxide-semi-conductor microchip. Myocardial microtissues (μm3 scale), coated with HUVECs and cast in a custom-shaped agarose mold, assembled to coherent macrotissues (mm3 scale), characterized by an extensive capillary network with typical vessel ultrastructures. Following implantation into chicken embryos, myocardial microtissues recruited the embryo's capillaries to functionally vascularize the rat-derived tissue implant. Similarly, transplantation of rat myocardial microtissues into the pericardium of adult rats resulted in time-dependent integration of myocardial microtissues and co-alignment of implanted and host cardiomyocytes within 7 days. Myocardial microtissues and custom-shaped macrotissues produced by cellular self-assembly exemplify the potential of artificial tissue implants for regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2541-2553
Number of pages13
JournalTissue Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2006
Externally publishedYes


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