Hemodynamic and biochemical factors play important roles in critical steps of angiogenesis. In particular, interstitial flow has attracted attention as an important hemodynamic factor controlling the angiogenic process. Here, we applied a wide range of interstitial flow magnitudes to an in vitro three-dimensional (3D) angiogenesis model in a microfluidic device. This study aimed to investigate the effect of interstitial flow magnitude in combination with the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) concentration on 3D microvascular network formation. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were cultured in a series of interstitial flow generated by 2, 8, and 25 mmH2O. Our findings indicated that interstitial flow significantly enhanced vascular sprout formation, network extension, and the development of branching networks in a magnitude-dependent manner. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the proangiogenic effect of interstitial flow application could not be substituted by the increased VEGF concentration. In addition, we found that HUVECs near vascular sprouts significantly elongated in >8 mmH2O conditions, while activation of Src was detected even in 2 mmH2O conditions. Our results suggest that the balance between the interstitial flow magnitude and the VEGF concentration plays an important role in the regulation of 3D microvascular network formation in vitro.
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