• fibrin gel;
  • collagen gel;
  • cell-derived matrix;
  • vascular tissue engineering;
  • soft tissue biomechanics


In this study, we created self-assembled smooth muscle cell (SMC) tissue rings (comprised entirely of cells and cell-derived matrix; CDM) and compared their structure and material properties with tissue rings created from SMC-seeded fibrin or collagen gels. All tissue rings were cultured statically for 7 days in supplemented growth medium (with ε-amino caproic acid, ascorbic acid, and insulin-transferrin-selenium), prior to uniaxial tensile testing and histology. Self-assembled CDM rings exhibited ultimate tensile strength and stiffness values that were two-fold higher than fibrin gel and collagen gel rings. Tensile testing of CDM, fibrin gel and collagen gel rings treated with deionized water to lyse cells showed little to no change in mechanical properties relative to untreated ring samples, indicating that the ECM dominates the measured ring mechanics. In addition, CDM rings cultured in supplemented growth medium were significantly stronger than CDM rings cultured in standard, unsupplemented growth medium. These results illustrate the potential utility of self-assembled cell rings as model CDM constructs for tissue engineering and biomechanical analysis of ECM material properties. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A, 2013.