Simultaneous intraluminal imaging of tissue autofluorescence and eGFP-labeled cells in engineered vascular grafts inside a bioreactor

Cai Li, Alba Alfonso-Garcia, James McMasters, Julien Bec, Brent Weyers, Lauren Uyesaka, Leigh Griffiths, Alyssa Panitch, Laura Marcu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The growing demand for tissue engineered vascular grafts (TEVG) motivates the development of optimized fabrication and monitoring procedures. Bioreactors which provide physiologically-relevant conditions are important for improving holistic TEVG properties and performance. Herein we describe a fiber-based intraluminal imaging system that allows for in situ assessment of vascular materials and re-cellularization processes inside a bioreactor by simultaneous and co-registered measurements of endogenous fluorescence lifetime and exogenous marker fluorescence intensity. The lumen of 6 vascular grafts (∼4 mm diameter) were scanned by reciprocally rotating a 41° angle polished multimode optical fiber inside a protective glass tube with outer diameter of 3 mm. Tubular bovine pericardium constructs were recellularized using enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein (eGFP) transfected cells in a custom bioreactor. The imaging system has resolved consistently the cellular autofluorescence from that of tissue matrix in situ based on the lifetime fluorescence properties of endogenous molecular species. The location of the re-cellularized area was validated by the eGFP emission. Current results demonstrate the potential of this system as a valuable tool in tissue engineering for in situ studies of cell-tissue interactions in cylindrical or other 3-dimensional structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044003
JournalMethods and applications in fluorescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • FLIm
  • bioreactor
  • fluorescence
  • non-destructive imaging
  • tissue engineered vascular graft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Spectroscopy


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