Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Measuring Vascular Graft Cellularity Non-Destructively_ Merging Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Tissue Engineering.pdf (5.03 MB)

Measuring vascular graft cellularity non-destructively: merging magnetic resonance imaging and tissue engineering

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-02-12, 17:00 authored by Brooke Tornifoglio, Alan J. Stone, Pattie Mathieu, Emma Fitzpatrick, Christian Kerskens, Caitríona Lally

Despite significant growth in the field of tissue engineering over the past decades, non-invasive, non-destructive methods to characterize the cellularisation of grafts are lacking. Here, in a proof-of-concept study, a non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging method, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), within acellular and cellularised vascular grafts is investigated. Using decellularised porcine carotid grafts, smooth muscle cells are cultured dynamically for two weeks with terminal time points at day 3, 7, and 14. Grafts are fixed at each time point and investigated by DTI in an ex vivo set up. Semi-quantitative histology is used as a ground truth for collagen, elastin, and cell density changes over time. DTI-derived metrics, namely the fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, and tractography, are significantly different between day 3 and day 7 grafts and distinguish between acellular and cellularised grafts. Specifically, increasing fractional anisotropy is correlated to increasing cell density. The results from this study show the potential of MR-DTI in the field of tissue engineering, offering non-invasive, non-destructive insight into graft cellularisation. 


European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union Horizon 2020 research innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 637674)

Open access funding provided by IReL



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Tornifoglio B, Stone AJ, Mathieu P, Fitzpatrick E, Kerskens C, Lally C.. Measuring vascular graft cellularity non-destructively: merging magnetic resonance imaging and tissue engineering. Adv Materials Technologies. 2023;9(1)

Publication Date

27 November 2023


  • Amber (Advanced Material & Bioengineering Research) Centre


John Wiley & Sons, Inc


  • Published Version (Version of Record)