Towards organ printing: Engineering an intra-organ branched vascular tree

Richard P. Visconti, Vladimir Kasyanov, Carmine Gentile, Jing Zhang, Roger R. Markwald, Vladimir Mironov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

196 Citations (Scopus)


Importance of the field: Effective vascularization of thick three-dimensional engineered tissue constructs is a problem in tissue engineering. As in native organs, a tissue-engineered intra-organ vascular tree must be comprised of a network of hierarchically branched vascular segments. Despite this requirement, current tissue-engineering efforts are still focused predominantly on engineering either large-diameter macrovessels or microvascular networks. Areas covered in this review: We present the emerging concept of organ printing or robotic additive biofabrication of an intra-organ branched vascular tree, based on the ability of vascular tissue spheroids to undergo self-assembly. What the reader will gain: The feasibility and challenges of this robotic biofabrication approach to intra-organ vascularization for tissue engineering based on organ-printing technology using self-assembling vascular tissue spheroids including clinically relevantly vascular cell sources are analyzed. Take home message: It is not possible to engineer 3D thick tissue or organ constructs without effective vascularization. An effective intra-organ vascular system cannot be built by the simple connection of large-diameter vessels and microvessels. Successful engineering of functional human organs suitable for surgical implantation will require concomitant engineering of a 'built in' intra-organ branched vascular system. Organ printing enables biofabrication of human organ constructs with a 'built in' intra-organ branched vascular tree.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-420
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Opinion on Biological Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Organ printing
  • Tissue spheroids
  • Vascular tree
  • Vascularization

Field of Science*

  • 2.6 Medical engineering
  • 3.4 Medical biotechnology
  • 3.1 Basic medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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