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Keywords:

  • spheroids;
  • tissue liquidity;
  • blood vessels;
  • dorsal aorta;
  • angiogenesis;
  • differential adhesion;
  • anastomosis

Abstract

We evaluated the self-assembly properties of uniluminal vascular spheroids having outer layers of vascular smooth muscle cells and a contiguous inner layer of endothelial cells lining a central lumen. We showed that while pairs of uniluminal vascular spheroids suspended in culture medium fused to form a larger diameter spheroidal structure, spheroids in collagen hydrogels formed elongated structures. These findings highlight the potential use of uniluminal vascular spheroids as modules to engineer blood vessels. We also demonstrate that uniluminal vascular spheroid fusion conforms to models describing the coalescence of liquid drops. Furthermore, the fusion of uniluminal vascular spheroids in vitro closely resembled the in vivo process by which the descending aorta forms from the fusion of the paired dorsal aortae during embryonic development. Together, the findings indicate that tissue liquidity underlies uniluminal vascular spheroid fusion and that in vivo anastomosis of blood vessels may involve a similar mechanism. Developmental Dynamics 239:398–406, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.