The microvasculature is the primary conduit through which the human body transmits oxygen, nutrients, and other biological information to its peripheral tissues. It does this through bidirectional communication between the blood, consisting of plasma and non-adherent cells, and the microvascular endothelium. Current understanding of this blood–endothelium interface has been predominantly derived from a combination of reductionist two-dimensional in vitro models and biologically complex in vivo animal models, both of which recapitulate the human microvasculature to varying but limited degrees. In an effort to address these limitations, vascularized microfluidics have become a platform of increasing importance as a consequence of their ability to isolate biologically complex phenomena while also recapitulating biochemical and biophysical behaviors known to be important to the function of the blood–endothelium interface. In this review, we discuss the basic principles of vascularized microfluidic fabrication, the contribution this platform has made to our understanding of the blood–endothelium interface in both homeostasis and disease, the limitations and challenges of these vascularized microfluidics for studying this interface, and how these inform future directions.
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