Bone is a highly vascularized tissue, and its development, maturation, remodeling, and regeneration are dependent on a tight regulation of blood vessel supply. This condition also has to be taken into consideration in the context of the development of artificial tissue substitutes. In classic tissue engineering, bone-forming cells such as primary osteoblasts or mesenchymal stem cells are introduced into suitable scaffolds and implanted in order to treat critical-size bone defects. However, such tissue substitutes are initially avascular. Because of the occurrence of hypoxic conditions, especially in larger tissue substitutes, this leads to the death of the implanted cells. Therefore, it is necessary to devise vascularization strategies aiming at fast and efficient vascularization of implanted artificial tissues. In this review article, we present and discuss the current vascularization strategies in bone tissue engineering. These are based on the use of angiogenic growth factors, the co-implantation of blood vessel forming cells, the ex vivo microfabrication of blood vessels by means of bioprinting, and surgical methods for creating surgically transferable composite tissues.
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