ABSTRACT: 3D printing of biological architectures that mimic the structural and functional features of in vivo tissues is of great interest in tissue engineering and the development of transplantable organ constructs. Printable bio-inks that are compatible with cellular activities play critical roles in the process of 3D bio-printing. Although a variety of hydrogels have been used as bio-inks for 3D bio-printing, they inherit poor mechanical properties and/or the lack of essential protein components that compromise their performance. Here, a hybrid Matrigel-agarose hydrogel system has been demonstrated that possesses both desired rheological properties for bio-printing and biocompatibility for long-term (11 days) cell culture. The agarose component in the hybrid hydrogel system enables the maintenance of 3D-printed structures, whereas Matrigel provides essential microenvironments for cell growth. When human intestinal epithelial HCT116 cells are encapsulated in the printed Matrigel-agarose constructs, high cell viability and proper cell spreading morphology are observed. Given that Matrigel is used extensively for 3D cell culturing, the developed 3D-printable Matrigel-agarose system will open a new way to construct Matrigel-based 3D constructs for cell culture and tissue engineering.
Project description:Direct printing of functional inks is critical for applications in diverse areas including electrochemical energy storage, smart electronics and healthcare. However, the available printable ink formulations are far from ideal. Either surfactants/additives are typically involved or the ink concentration is low, which add complexity to the manufacturing and compromises the printing resolution. Here, we demonstrate two types of two-dimensional titanium carbide (Ti3C2Tx) MXene inks, aqueous and organic in the absence of any additive or binary-solvent systems, for extrusion printing and inkjet printing, respectively. We show examples of all-MXene-printed structures, such as micro-supercapacitors, conductive tracks and ohmic resistors on untreated plastic and paper substrates, with high printing resolution and spatial uniformity. The volumetric capacitance and energy density of the all-MXene-printed micro-supercapacitors are orders of magnitude greater than existing inkjet/extrusion-printed active materials. The versatile direct-ink-printing technique highlights the promise of additive-free MXene inks for scalable fabrication of easy-to-integrate components of printable electronics.
Project description:Recent advancements in 3D bioprinting have led to the fabrication of more complex, more precise, and larger printed tissue constructs. As the field continues to advance, it is critical to develop quantitative benchmarks to compare different bio-inks for key cell-biomaterial interactions, including (1) cell sedimentation within the ink cartridge, (2) cell viability during extrusion, and (3) cell viability after ink curing. Here we develop three simple protocols for quantitative analysis of bio-ink performance. These methods are used to benchmark the performance of two commonly used bio-inks, poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) and gelatin methacrylate (GelMA), against three formulations of a novel bio-ink, Recombinant-protein Alginate Platform for Injectable Dual-crosslinked ink (RAPID ink). RAPID inks undergo peptide-self-assembly to form weak, shear-thinning gels in the ink cartridge and undergo electrostatic crosslinking with divalent cations during curing. In the one hour cell sedimentation assay, GelMA, the RAPID inks, and PEGDA with xanthan gum prevented appreciable cell sedimentation, while PEGDA alone or PEGDA with alginate experienced significant cell settling. To quantify cell viability during printing, 3T3 fibroblasts were printed at a constant flow rate of 75 ?l min-1 and immediately tested for cell membrane integrity. Less than 10% of cells were damaged using the PEGDA and GelMA bio-inks, while less than 4% of cells were damaged using the RAPID inks. Finally, to evaluate cell viability after curing, cells were exposed to ink-specific curing conditions for five minutes and tested for membrane integrity. After exposure to light with photoinitiator at ambient conditions, over 50% of cells near the edges of printed PEGDA and GelMA droplets were damaged. In contrast, fewer than 20% of cells found near the edges of RAPID inks were damaged after a 5 min exposure to curing in a 10 mM CaCl2 solution. As new bio-inks continue to be developed, these protocols offer a convenient means to quantitatively benchmark their performance against existing inks.
Project description:Tissue spheroids hold great potential in tissue engineering as building blocks to assemble into functional tissues. To date, agarose molds have been extensively used to facilitate fusion process of tissue spheroids. As a molding material, agarose typically requires low temperature plates for gelation and/or heated dispenser units. Here, we proposed and developed an alginate-based, direct 3D mold-printing technology: 3D printing microdroplets of alginate solution into biocompatible, bio-inert alginate hydrogel molds for the fabrication of scaffold-free tissue engineering constructs. Specifically, we developed a 3D printing technology to deposit microdroplets of alginate solution on calcium containing substrates in a layer-by-layer fashion to prepare ring-shaped 3D hydrogel molds. Tissue spheroids composed of 50% endothelial cells and 50% smooth muscle cells were robotically placed into the 3D printed alginate molds using a 3D printer, and were found to rapidly fuse into toroid-shaped tissue units. Histological and immunofluorescence analysis indicated that the cells secreted collagen type I playing a critical role in promoting cell-cell adhesion, tissue formation and maturation.
Project description:Drop-on-demand (DOD) bioprinting has attracted huge attention for numerous biological applications due to its precise control over material volume and deposition pattern in a contactless printing approach. 3D bioprinting is still an emerging field and more work is required to improve the viability and homogeneity of printed cells during the printing process. Here, a general purpose bio-ink was developed using polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) macromolecules. Different PVP-based bio-inks (0%-3% w/v) were prepared and evaluated for their printability; the short-term and long-term viability of the printed cells were first investigated. The Z value of a bio-ink determines its printability; it is the inverse of the Ohnesorge number (Oh), which is the ratio between the Reynolds number and a square root of the Weber number, and is independent of the bio-ink velocity. The viability of printed cells is dependent on the Z values of the bio-inks; the results indicated that the cells can be printed without any significant impairment using a bio-ink with a threshold Z value of ≤9.30 (2% and 2.5% w/v). Next, the cell output was evaluated over a period of 30 min. The results indicated that PVP molecules mitigate the cell adhesion and sedimentation during the printing process; the 2.5% w/v PVP bio-ink demonstrated the most consistent cell output over a period of 30 min. Hence, PVP macromolecules can play a critical role in improving the cell viability and homogeneity during the bioprinting process.
Project description:One of the key thrusts in three-dimensional (3D) printing and direct writing is to seamlessly vary composition and functional properties in printed constructs. Most inks used for extrusion-based printing, however, are compositionally static and available approaches for dynamic tuning of ink composition remain few. Here, we present an approach to modulate extruded inks at the point of print, using droplet inclusions. Using a glass capillary microfluidic device as the printhead, we dispersed droplets in a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) continuous phase and subsequently 3D printed the resulting emulsion into a variety of structures. The mechanical characteristics of the 3D-printed constructs can be tuned in situ by varying the spatial distribution of droplets, including aqueous and liquid metal droplets. In particular, we report the use of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) aqueous droplets for local PDMS chemistry alteration resulting in significant softening (85% reduced elastic modulus) of the 3D-printed constructs. Furthermore, we imparted magnetic functionality in PDMS by dispersing ferrofluid droplets and rationally designed and printed a rudimentary magnetically responsive soft robotic actuator as a functional demonstration of our droplet-based strategy. Our approach represents a continuing trend of adapting microfluidic technology and principles for developing the next generation of additive manufacturing technology.
Project description:Hydrogel-based bio-inks have recently attracted more attention for 3D printing applications in tissue engineering due to their remarkable intrinsic properties, such as a cell supporting environment. However, their usually weak mechanical properties lead to poor printability and low stability of the obtained structures. To obtain good shape fidelity, current approaches based on extrusion printing use high viscosity solutions, which can compromise cell viability. This paper presents a novel bio-printing methodology based on a dual-syringe system with a static mixing tool that allows in situ crosslinking of a two-component hydrogel-based ink in the presence of living cells. The reactive hydrogel system consists of carboxymethyl chitosan (CMCh) and partially oxidized hyaluronic acid (HAox) that undergo fast self-covalent crosslinking via Schiff base formation. This new approach allows us to use low viscosity solutions since in situ gelation provides the appropriate structural integrity to maintain the printed shape. The proposed bio-ink formulation was optimized to match crosslinking kinetics with the printing process and multi-layered 3D bio-printed scaffolds were successfully obtained. Printed scaffolds showed moderate swelling, good biocompatibility with embedded cells, and were mechanically stable after 14 days of the cell culture. We envision that this straightforward, powerful, and generalizable printing approach can be used for a wide range of materials, growth factors, or cell types, to be employed for soft tissue regeneration.
Project description:Three-dimensional (3D) cell printing systems allow the controlled and precise deposition of multiple cells in 3D constructs. Hydrogel materials have been used extensively as printable bioinks owing to their ability to safely encapsulate living cells. However, hydrogel-based bioinks have drawbacks for cell printing, e.g. inappropriate crosslinking and liquid-like rheological properties, which hinder precise 3D shaping. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the influence of various factors (e.g. bioink concentration, viscosity, and extent of crosslinking) on cell printing and established a new 3D cell printing system equipped with heating modules for the precise stacking of decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM)-based 3D cell-laden constructs. Because the pH-adjusted bioink isolated from native tissue is safely gelled at 37?°C, our heating system facilitated the precise stacking of dECM bioinks by enabling simultaneous gelation during printing. We observed greater printability compared with that of a non-heating system. These results were confirmed by mechanical testing and 3D construct stacking analyses. We also confirmed that our heating system did not elicit negative effects, such as cell death, in the printed cells. Conclusively, these results hold promise for the application of 3D bioprinting to tissue engineering and drug development.
Project description:Three-dimensional bioprinting uses additive manufacturing techniques for the automated fabrication of hierarchically organized living constructs. The building blocks are often hydrogel-based bioinks, which need to be printed into structures with high shape fidelity to the intended computer-aided design. For optimal cell performance, relatively soft and printable inks are preferred, although these undergo significant deformation during the printing process, which may impair shape fidelity. While the concept of good or poor printability seems rather intuitive, its quantitative definition lacks consensus and depends on multiple rheological and chemical parameters of the ink. This review discusses qualitative and quantitative methodologies to evaluate printability of bioinks for extrusion- and lithography-based bioprinting. The physicochemical parameters influencing shape fidelity are discussed, together with their importance in establishing new models, predictive tools and printing methods that are deemed instrumental for the design of next-generation bioinks, and for reproducible comparison of their structural performance.
Project description:Type I collagen self-assembles into three-dimensional (3D) fibrous networks. These dynamic viscoelastic materials can be remodeled in response to mechanical and chemical signals to form anisotropic networks, the structure of which influences tissue development, homeostasis, and disease progression. Conventional approaches for fabricating anisotropic networks of type I collagen are often limited to unidirectional fiber alignment over small areas. Here, we describe a new approach for engineering cell-laden networks of aligned type I collagen fibers using 3D microextrusion printing of a collagen-Matrigel ink. We demonstrate hierarchical control of 3D-printed collagen with the ability to spatially pattern collagen fiber alignment and geometry. Our data suggest that collagen alignment results from a combination of molecular crowding in the ink and shear and extensional flows present during 3D printing. We demonstrate that human breast cancer cells cultured on 3D-printed collagen constructs orient along the direction of collagen fiber alignment. We also demonstrate the ability to simultaneously bioprint epithelial cell clusters and control the alignment and geometry of collagen fibers surrounding cells in the bioink. The resulting cell-laden constructs consist of epithelial cell clusters fully embedded in aligned networks of collagen fibers. Such 3D-printed constructs can be used for studies of developmental biology, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine.
Project description:Biodegradable 3D-printable inks based on pectin have been developed as a system for direct and indirect wound-dressing applications, suitable for 3D printing technologies. The 3D-printable inks formed free-standing transparent films upon drying, with the latter exhibiting fast disintegration upon contact with aqueous media. The antimicrobial and wound-healing activities of the inks have been successfully enhanced by the addition of particles, comprised of chitosan and cyclodextrin inclusion complexes with propolis extract. Response Surface Methodology (RSM) was applied for the optimization of the inks (extrusion-printing pressure, shrinkage minimization over-drying, increased water uptake and minimization of the disintegration of the dry patches upon contact with aqueous media). Particles comprised of chitosan and cyclodextrin/propolis extract inclusion complexes (CCP), bearing antimicrobial properties, were optimized and integrated with the produced inks. The bioprinted patches were assessed for their cytocompatibility, antimicrobial activity and in vitro wound-healing properties. These studies were complemented with ex vivo skin adhesion measurements, a relative surface hydrophobicity and opacity measurement, mechanical properties, visualization, and spectroscopic techniques. The in vitro wound-healing studies revealed that the 3D-bioprinted patches enhanced the in vitro wound-healing process, while the incorporation of CCP further enhanced wound-healing, as well as the antimicrobial activity of the patches.