Small-artery-mimicking multi-layered 3D co-culture in a self-folding porous graphene-based film

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In vitro vessel-mimicking models have been spotlighted as a powerful tool for investigating cellular behaviours in vascular development and diseases. However, it is still challenging to create micro-scale tubular tissues while mimicking the structural features of small arteries. Here, we propose a 3D culture model of small vascular tissue using a self-folding graphene-based porous film. Vascular endothelial cells were encapsulated within the self-folding film to create a cellular construct with a controlled curvature radius ranging from 10 to 100 μm, which is comparable to the size of a human arteriole. Additionally, vascular endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells were separately co-cultured on the inner and outer surfaces of the folded film, respectively. The porous wall worked as a permeable barrier between them, affecting the cell–cell communications like the extracellular layer in the artery wall. Thus, the culture model recapitulates the structural features of a small artery and will help us better understand intercellular communications at the artery wall in physiological and pathological conditions.

Graphical abstract: Small-artery-mimicking multi-layered 3D co-culture in a self-folding porous graphene-based film

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