Recent developments in tissue engineering have created demand for the ability to create microvascular networks with specific topologies in vitro. During angiogenesis, sprouting endothelial cells apply traction forces and migrate along components of the extracellular matrix (ECM), resulting in neovessel elongation [1]. The fibrillar structure of the ECM serves as the major pathway for mechanotransduction between contact-dependent cells. Using a three-dimensional (3D) organ culture model of microvessel fragments within a type-I collagen gel, we have shown that subjecting the culture to different boundary conditions during angiogenesis can lead to drastically different vascular topologies [2]. Fragments cultured in a rectangular gel that were free to contract grew into a randomly oriented network [3, 4]. When the long-axis of the gel was constrained as to prevent contraction, microvessels and collagen fibers were found aligned along the constrained axis (Fig. 1) [4].

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.