Tissue engineering holds the promise for a therapeutic solution in regenerative medicine. The primary goal of tissue engineering is the development of physiologically functional and biocompatible tissues/organs being implanted for the repair and replacement of damaged or diseased ones. Given the complexity in the developing processes of engineered tissues, which involves multi-dimensional interactions among cells of different types, three-dimensionally constructed scaffolds, and actively intervening bioreactors, a capable real-time imaging tool is critically required for expanding our knowledge about the developing process of desired tissues or organs. It has been recognized that optical coherence tomography (OCT), an emerging noninvasive imaging technique that provides high spatial resolution (up to the cellular level) and three-dimensional imaging capability, is a promising investigative tool for tissue engineering. This chapter discusses the existing and potential applications of OCT in tissue engineering. Example OCT investigations of the three major components of tissue engineering, i.e., cells, scaffolds, and bioreactors are overviewed. Imaging examples of OCT and its enabling functions and variants, e.g., Doppler OCT, polarization-sensitive OCT, optical coherence microscopy are emphasized. Remaining challenges in the application of OCT to tissue engineering are discussed, and the prospective solutions including the combination of OCT with other high-contrast and high-resolution modalities such as two-photon fluorescence microscopy are suggested as well. It is expected that OCT, along with its functional variants, will make important contributions toward revealing the complex cellular dynamics in engineered tissues as well as help us culture demanding tissue/organ implants that will advance regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOptical Coherence Tomography
Subtitle of host publicationTechnology and Applications, Second Edition
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9783319064192
ISBN (Print)9783319064185
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Cellular imaging
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Optical imaging
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Scaffolds
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Medicine
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Engineering


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