A Synthetic Thermosensitive Hydrogel for Cartilage Bioprinting and Its Biofunctionalization with Polysaccharides.
ABSTRACT: Hydrogels based on triblock copolymers of polyethylene glycol and partially methacrylated poly[N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide mono/dilactate] make up an attractive class of biomaterials because of their biodegradability, cytocompatibility, and tunable thermoresponsive and mechanical properties. If these properties are fine-tuned, the hydrogels can be three-dimensionally bioprinted, to generate, for instance, constructs for cartilage repair. This study investigated whether hydrogels based on the polymer mentioned above with a 10% degree of methacrylation (M10P10) support cartilage formation by chondrocytes and whether the incorporation of methacrylated chondroitin sulfate (CSMA) or methacrylated hyaluronic acid (HAMA) can improve the mechanical properties, long-term stability, and printability. Chondrocyte-laden M10P10 hydrogels were cultured for 42 days to evaluate chondrogenesis. M10P10 hydrogels with or without polysaccharides were evaluated for their mechanical properties (before and after UV photo-cross-linking), degradation kinetics, and printability. Extensive cartilage matrix production occurred in M10P10 hydrogels, highlighting their potential for cartilage repair strategies. The incorporation of polysaccharides increased the storage modulus of polymer mixtures and decreased the degradation kinetics in cross-linked hydrogels. Addition of HAMA to M10P10 hydrogels improved printability and resulted in three-dimensional constructs with excellent cell viability. Hence, this novel combination of M10P10 with HAMA forms an interesting class of hydrogels for cartilage bioprinting.
Project description:Fine-tuning of bio-ink composition and material processing parameters is crucial for the development of biomechanically relevant cartilage constructs. This study aims to design and develop cartilage constructs with tunable internal architectures and relevant mechanical properties. More specifically, the potential of methacrylated hyaluronic acid (HAMA) added to thermosensitive hydrogels composed of methacrylated poly[N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide mono/dilactate] (pHPMA-lac)/polyethylene glycol (PEG) triblock copolymers, to optimize cartilage-like tissue formation by embedded chondrocytes, and enhance printability was explored. Additionally, co-printing with polycaprolactone (PCL) was performed for mechanical reinforcement. Chondrocyte-laden hydrogels composed of pHPMA-lac-PEG and different concentrations of HAMA (0%-1% w/w) were cultured for 28 d in vitro and subsequently evaluated for the presence of cartilage-like matrix. Young's moduli were determined for hydrogels with the different HAMA concentrations. Additionally, hydrogel/PCL constructs with different internal architectures were co-printed and analyzed for their mechanical properties. The results of this study demonstrated a dose-dependent effect of HAMA concentration on cartilage matrix synthesis by chondrocytes. Glycosaminoglycan (GAG) and collagen type II content increased with intermediate HAMA concentrations (0.25%-0.5%) compared to HAMA-free controls, while a relatively high HAMA concentration (1%) resulted in increased fibrocartilage formation. Young's moduli of generated hydrogel constructs ranged from 14 to 31 kPa and increased with increasing HAMA concentration. The pHPMA-lac-PEG hydrogels with 0.5% HAMA were found to be optimal for cartilage-like tissue formation. Therefore, this hydrogel system was co-printed with PCL to generate porous or solid constructs with different mesh sizes. Young's moduli of these composite constructs were in the range of native cartilage (3.5-4.6 MPa). Interestingly, the co-printing procedure influenced the mechanical properties of the final constructs. These findings are relevant for future bio-ink development, as they demonstrate the importance of selecting proper HAMA concentrations, as well as appropriate print settings and construct designs for optimal cartilage matrix deposition and final mechanical properties of constructs, respectively.
Project description:Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting of patient-specific auricular cartilage constructs could aid in the reconstruction process of traumatically injured or congenitally deformed ear cartilage. To achieve this, a hydrogel-based bioink is required that recapitulates the complex cartilage microenvironment. Tissue-derived decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM)-based hydrogels have been used as bioinks for cell-based 3D bioprinting because they contain tissue-specific ECM components that play a vital role in cell adhesion, growth, and differentiation. In this study, porcine auricular cartilage tissues were isolated and decellularized, and the decellularized cartilage tissues were characterized by histology, biochemical assay, and proteomics. This cartilage-derived dECM (cdECM) was subsequently processed into a photo-crosslinkable hydrogel using methacrylation (cdECMMA) and mixed with chondrocytes to create a printable bioink. The rheological properties, printability, and in vitro biological properties of the cdECMMA bioink were examined. The results showed cdECM was obtained with complete removal of cellular components while preserving major ECM proteins. After methacrylation, the cdECMMA bioinks were printed in anatomical ear shape and exhibited adequate mechanical properties and structural integrity. Specifically, auricular chondrocytes in the printed cdECMMA hydrogel constructs maintained their viability and proliferation capacity and eventually produced cartilage ECM components, including collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). The potential of cell-based bioprinting using this cartilage-specific dECMMA bioink is demonstrated as an alternative option for auricular cartilage reconstruction.
Project description:Tissue engineering using adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), a promising approach for cartilage repair, is highly dependent on the nature of the matrix scaffold. Thermoresponsive, photocrosslinkable hydrogels were fabricated by functionalizing pepsin-soluble decellularized tendon and cartilage extracellular matrices (ECM) with methacrylate groups. Methacrylated gelatin hydrogels served as controls. When seeded with human bone marrow MSCs and cultured in chondrogenic medium, methacrylated ECM hydrogels experienced less cell-mediated contraction, as compared against non-methacrylated ECM hydrogels. However, methacrylation slowed or diminished chondrogenic differentiation of seeded MSCs, as determined through analyses of gene expression, biochemical composition and histology. In particular, methacrylated cartilage hydrogels supported minimal due to chondrogenesis over 42 weeks, as hydrogel disintegration beginning at day 14 presumably compromised cell-matrix interactions. As compared against methacrylated gelatin hydrogels, MSCs cultured in non-methacrylated ECM hydrogels exhibited comparable expression of chondrogenic genes (Sox9, Aggrecan and collagen type II) but increased collagen type I expression. Non-methacrylated cartilage hydrogels did not promote chondrogenesis to a greater extent than either non-methacrylated or methacrylated tendon hydrogels. Whereas methacrylated gelatin hydrogels supported relatively homogeneous increases in proteoglycan and collagen type II deposition throughout the construct over 42 days, ECM hydrogels possessed greater heterogeneity of staining intensity and construct morphology. These results do not support the utility of pepsin-solubilized cartilage and tendon hydrogels for cartilage tissue engineering over methacrylated gelatin hydrogels. Methacrylation of tendon and cartilage ECM hydrogels permits thermal- and light-induced polymerization but compromises chondrogenic differentiation of seeded MSCs.
Project description:In calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD), microcalcifications originating from nanoscale calcifying vesicles disrupt the aortic valve (AV) leaflets, which consist of three (biomechanically) distinct layers: the fibrosa, spongiosa, and ventricularis. CAVD has no pharmacotherapy and lacks in vitro models as a result of complex valvular biomechanical features surrounding resident mechanosensitive valvular interstitial cells (VICs). We measured layer-specific mechanical properties of the human AV and engineered a three-dimensional (3D)-bioprinted CAVD model that recapitulates leaflet layer biomechanics for the first time. Human AV leaflet layers were separated by microdissection, and nanoindentation determined layer-specific Young’s moduli. Methacrylated gelatin (GelMA)/methacrylated hyaluronic acid (HAMA) hydrogels were tuned to duplicate layer-specific mechanical characteristics, followed by 3D-printing with encapsulated human VICs. Hydrogels were exposed to osteogenic media (OM) to induce microcalcification, and VIC pathogenesis was assessed by near infrared or immunofluorescence microscopy. Median Young’s moduli of the AV layers were 37.1, 15.4, and 26.9 kPa (fibrosa/spongiosa/ventricularis, respectively). The fibrosa and spongiosa Young’s moduli matched the 3D 5% GelMa/1% HAMA UV-crosslinked hydrogels. OM stimulation of VIC-laden bioprinted hydrogels induced microcalcification without apoptosis. We report the first layer-specific measurements of human AV moduli and a novel 3D-bioprinted CAVD model that potentiates microcalcification by mimicking the native AV mechanical environment. This work sheds light on valvular mechanobiology and could facilitate high-throughput drug-screening in CAVD.
Project description:Fabrication of three dimensional (3D) organoids with controlled microarchitectures has been shown to enhance tissue functionality. Bioprinting can be used to precisely position cells and cell-laden materials to generate controlled tissue architecture. Therefore, it represents an exciting alternative for organ fabrication. Despite the rapid progress in the field, the development of printing processes that can be used to fabricate macroscale tissue constructs from ECM-derived hydrogels has remained a challenge. Here we report a strategy for bioprinting of photolabile cell-laden methacrylated gelatin (GelMA) hydrogels. We bioprinted cell-laden GelMA at concentrations ranging from 7 to 15% with varying cell densities and found a direct correlation between printability and the hydrogel mechanical properties. Furthermore, encapsulated HepG2 cells preserved cell viability for at least eight days following the bioprinting process. In summary, this work presents a strategy for direct-write bioprinting of a cell-laden photolabile ECM-derived hydrogel, which may find widespread application for tissue engineering, organ printing and the development of 3D drug discovery platforms.
Project description:Moderate to weak mechanical properties limit the use of naturally-derived tissue sealants for dynamic medical applications, e.g., sealing a lung leak. To overcome these limitations, we developed visible-light crosslinked alginate-based hydrogels, as either non-adhesive methacrylated alginate (Alg-MA) hydrogel controls, or oxidized Alg-MA (Alg-MA-Ox) tissue adhesive tissue sealants, which form covalent bonds with extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Our study investigated the potential for visible-light crosslinked Alg-MA-Ox hydrogels to serve as effective surgical tissue sealants for dynamic in vivo systems. The Alg-MA-Ox hydrogels were designed to be an injectable system, curable in situ. Burst pressure experiments were conducted on a custom-fabricated burst pressure device using constant air flow; burst pressure properties and adhesion characteristics correlated with the degrees of methacrylation and oxidation. In summary, visible light crosslinked Alg-MA-Ox hydrogel tissue sealants form effective seals over critically-sized defects, and maintain pressures up to 50mm Hg.
Project description:Elastic tissue equivalence is a vital requirement of synthetic materials proposed for many resilient, soft tissue engineering applications. Here we present a bioelastomer made from tropoelastin, the human protein that naturally facilitates elasticity and cell interactions in all elastic tissues. We combined this protein's innate versatility with fast non-toxic fabrication techniques to make highly extensible, cell compatible hydrogels. These hydrogels can be produced in less than a minute through photocrosslinking of methacrylated tropoelastin (MeTro) in an aqueous solution. The fabricated MeTro gels exhibited high extensibility (up to 400%) and superior mechanical properties that outperformed other photocrosslinkable hydrogels. MeTro gels were used to encapsulate cells within a flexible 3D environment and to manufacture highly elastic 2D films for cell attachment, growth, and proliferation. In addition, the physical properties of this fabricated bioelastomer such as elasticity, stiffness, and pore characteristics were tuned through manipulation of the methacrylation degree and protein concentration. This photocrosslinkable, functional tissue mimetic gel benefits from the innate biological properties of a human elastic protein and opens new opportunities in tissue engineering.
Project description:The ex vivo engineering of autologous cartilage tissues has the potential to revolutionize the clinical management of joint disorders. Yet, high manufacturing costs and variable outcomes associated with tissue-engineered implants are still limiting their application. To improve clinical outcomes and facilitate a wider use of engineered tissues, automated bioreactor systems capable of enhancing and monitoring neotissues are required. Here, we developed an innovative system capable of applying precise uni- or biaxial mechanical stimulation to developing cartilage neotissues in a tightly controlled and automated fashion. The bioreactor allows for simple control over the loading parameters with a user-friendly graphical interface and is equipped with a load cell for monitoring tissue maturation. Applying our bioreactor, we demonstrate that human articular chondrocytes encapsulated in hydrogels composed of gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) and hyaluronic acid methacrylate (HAMA) respond to uni- and biaxial mechanical stimulation by upregulation of hyaline cartilage-specific marker genes. We further demonstrate that intermittent biaxial mechanostimulation enhances accumulation of hyaline cartilage-specific extracellular matrix. Our study underlines the stimulatory effects of mechanical loading on the biosynthetic activity of human chondrocytes in engineered constructs and the need for easy-to-use, automated bioreactor systems in cartilage tissue engineering.
Project description:3D bioprinting strategies in tissue engineering aim to fabricate clinically applicable tissue constructs that can replace the damaged or diseased tissues and organs. One of the main prerequisites in 3D bioprinting is finding an appropriate bioink that provides a tissue-specific microenvironment supporting the cellular growth and maturation. In this respect, decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM)-derived hydrogels have been considered as bioinks for the cell-based bioprinting due to their capability to inherit the intrinsic cues from native ECM. Herein, a photo-crosslinkable kidney ECM-derived bioink (KdECMMA) is developed that could provide a kidney-specific microenvironment for renal tissue bioprinting. Porcine whole kidneys are decellularized through a perfusion method, dissolved in an acid solution, and chemically modified by methacrylation. A KdECMMA-based bioink is formulated and evaluated for rheological properties and printability for the printing process. The results show that the bioprinted human kidney cells in the KdECMMA bioink are highly viable and mature with time. Moreover, the bioprinted renal constructs exhibit the structural and functional characteristics of the native renal tissue. The potential of the tissue-specific ECM-derived bioink is demonstrated for cell-based bioprinting that could enhance the cellular maturation and eventually tissue formation.