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Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. As such, vascular reconstruction and graft bypass surgery are in high demand to slow the rate of morbidity following the onset of this pathology. However, the use of non-biocompatible synthetic grafts, especially those of small diameter (6 mm or less), frequently leads to thrombosis and occlusion of the vessel. The field of vascular tissue engineering provides an alternative method to generate small (and large)-diameter bypass grafts that can support cell growth and are expected to exhibit long-term patency. Following the generation of the first in vitro blood vessel over 30 years ago, there has been considerable progress in this area in terms of scaffold availability, construction of the vessels and application of stem cells. This chapter will specifically focus on the use of stem cells in the generation of vascular grafts. Here we will highlight the current scaffolds available for seeding cells, the alternate stem cell sources and their isolation, the methods used to differentiate stem cells into vascular lineages and their application in generating blood vessels in vitro. The future hurdles that must be overcome before tissue-engineered blood vessels can be applied to a clinical setting will also be discussed.
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- Cells and Vascular Tissue Engineering
John Paul Kirton
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg