The organization of cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) in native tissues plays a crucial role in their functionality. However, in tissue engineering, cells and ECM are randomly distributed within a scaffold. Thus, the production of engineered-tissue with complex 3D organization remains a challenge. In the present study, we used contact guidance to control the interactions between the material topography, the cells and the ECM for three different tissues, namely vascular media, corneal stroma and dermal tissue. Using a specific surface topography on an elastomeric material, we observed the orientation of a first cell layer along the patterns in the material. Orientation of the first cell layer translates into a physical cue that induces the second cell layer to follow a physiologically consistent orientation mimicking the structure of the native tissue. Furthermore, secreted ECM followed cell orientation in every layer, resulting in an oriented self-assembled tissue sheet. These self-assembled tissue sheets were then used to create 3 different structured engineered-tissue: cornea, vascular media and dermis. We showed that functionality of such structured engineered-tissue was increased when compared to the same non-structured tissue. Dermal tissues were used as a negative control in response to surface topography since native dermal fibroblasts are not preferentially oriented in vivo. Non-structured surfaces were also used to produce randomly oriented tissue sheets to evaluate the impact of tissue orientation on functional output. This novel approach for the production of more complex 3D tissues would be useful for clinical purposes and for in vitro physiological tissue model to better understand long standing questions in biology.
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