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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Longitudinal In Vivo Imaging to Assess Blood Flow and Oxygenation in Implantable Engineered Tissues


The functionality of vascular networks within implanted prevascularized tissues is difficult to assess using traditional analysis techniques, such as histology. This is largely due to the inability to visualize hemodynamics in vivo longitudinally. Therefore, we have developed dynamic imaging methods to measure blood flow and hemoglobin oxygen saturation in implanted prevascularized tissues noninvasively and longitudinally. Using laser speckle imaging, multispectral imaging, and intravital microscopy, we demonstrate that fibrin-based tissue implants anastomose with the host (severe combined immunodeficient mice) in as short as 20 h. Anastomosis results in initial perfusion with highly oxygenated blood, and an increase in average hemoglobin oxygenation of 53%. However, shear rates in the preformed vessels were low (20.8±12.8 s−1), and flow did not persist in the vast majority of preformed vessels due to thrombus formation. These findings suggest that designing an appropriate vascular network structure in prevascularized tissues to maintain shear rates above the threshold for thrombosis may be necessary to maintain flow following implantation. We conclude that wide-field and microscopic functional imaging can dynamically assess blood flow and oxygenation in vivo in prevascularized tissues, and can be used to rapidly evaluate and improve prevascularization strategies.

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