Silicon micromachining to tissue engineer branched vascular channels for liver fabrication

Satoshi Kaihara, Jeffrey Borenstein, Rahul Koka, Sonal Lalan, Erin R. Ochoa, Michael Ravens, Homer Pien, Brian Cunningham, Joseph P. Vacanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To date, many approaches to engineering new tissue have emerged and they have all relied on vascularization from the host to provide permanent engraftment and mass transfer of oxygen and nutrients. Although this approach has been useful in many tissues, it has not been as successful in thick, complex tissues, particularly those comprising the large vital organs such as the liver, kidney, and heart. In this study, we report preliminary results using micromachining technologies on silicon and Pyrex surfaces to generate complete vascular systems that may be integrated with engineered tissue before implantation. Using standard photolithography techniques, trench patterns reminiscent of branched architecture of vascular and capillary networks were etched onto silicon and Pyrex surfaces to serve as templates. Hepatocytes and endothelial cells were cultured and subsequently lifted as single-cell monolayers from these two-dimensional molds. Both cell types were viable and proliferative on these surfaces. In addition, hepatocytes maintained albumin production. The lifted monolayers were then folded into compact three-dimensional tissues. Thus, with the use microfabrication technology in tissue engineering, it now seems feasible to consider lifting endothelial cells as branched vascular networks from two-dimensional templates that may ultimately be combined with layers of parenchymal tissue, such as hepatocytes, to form three-dimensional conformations of living vascularized tissue for implantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalTissue Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology


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