Vascularized neural constructs for ex-vivo reconstitution of blood-brain barrier function

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number119980
Journal / PublicationBiomaterials
Online published18 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


Ex-vivo blood-brain barrier (BBB) model is of great value for studying brain function and drug development, but it is still challenging to engineer macroscale three-dimensional (3D) tissue constructs to recapitulate physiological and functional aspects of BBB. Here, we describe a delicate 3D vascularized neural constructs for ex-vivo reconstitution of BBB function. The tissue-engineered tissue construct is based on a multicomponent 3D co-culture of four types of cells, which typically exist in the BBB and were spatially defined and organized to mimic the in vivo BBB structure and function. A porous polycaprolactone/poly (D,L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PCL/PLGA) microfluidic perfusion system works as the vasculature network, which was made by freeze-coating a 3D-printed sacrificial template. Endothelial cells were seeded inside the channels of the network to form 3D interconnected blood vessels; while other types of cells, including pericytes, astrocytes, and neurons, were co-cultured in a collagen matrix wrapping the vasculature network to derive a vascularized neural construct that recapitulates in vivo BBB function with great complexity and delicacy. Using this model, we successfully reconstituted BBB function with parameters that are similar to the in vivo condition, and demonstrated the identification of BBB-penetrating therapeutics by examining the molecular delivery to neuronal cells when relevant biologic molecules were applied to the vasculature circulation system of the neural construct.

Research Area(s)

  • 3D printing, Blood-brain barrier, Drug screening, Neuro-engineering, Organ on a chip, Tissue engineering, Vasculature network