Perfusable vascular structures in cell-dense tissues are essential for fabricating functional three-dimensional (3D) tissues in vitro. However, it is challenging to introduce functional vascular networks observable as vascular tree, finely spaced at intervals of tens of micrometers as in living tissues, into a 3D cell-dense tissue. Herein, we propose a method for introducing numerous vascular networks that can be perfused with blood into 3D tissues constructed by cell sheet engineering. We devise an artificial vascular bed using a hydrogel that is barely deformed by cells, enabling perfusion of the culture medium directly beneath the cell sheets. Triple-layered cell sheets with an endothelial cell network prepared by fibroblast co-culture are transplanted onto the vascular bed and subjected to perfusion culture. We demonstrate that numerous vascular networks are formed with luminal structures in the cell sheets and can be perfused with India ink or blood after a five-day perfusion culture. Histological analysis also demonstrates that perfusable vascular structures are constructed at least 100 μm intervals uniformly and densely within the tissues. The results suggest that our perfusion culture method enhances vascularization within the 3D cell-dense tissues and enables the introduction of functional vasculature macroscopically observable as vascular tree in vitro. In conclusion, this technology can be used to fabricate functional tissues and organs for regenerative therapies and in vitro experimental models.
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