Coaxial extrusion bioprinting of 3D microfibrous constructs with cell-favorable gelatin methacryloyl microenvironments.
ABSTRACT: Bioinks with shear-thinning/rapid solidification properties and strong mechanics are usually needed for the bioprinting of three-dimensional (3D) cell-laden constructs. As such, it remains challenging to generate soft constructs from bioinks at low concentrations that are favorable for cellular activities. Herein, we report a strategy to fabricate cell-laden constructs with tunable 3D microenvironments achieved by bioprinting of gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA)/alginate core/sheath microfibers, where the alginate sheath serves as a template to support and confine the GelMA pre-hydrogel in the core during the extrusion process, allowing for subsequent UV crosslinking. This novel strategy minimizes the bioprinting requirements for the core bioink, and facilitates the fabrication of cell-laden GelMA constructs at low concentrations. We first showed the capability of generating various alginate hollow microfibrous constructs using a coaxial nozzle setup, and verified the diffusibility and perfusability of the bioprinted hollow structures that are important for the tissue engineering applications. More importantly, the hollow alginate microfibers were then used as templates for generating cell-laden GelMA constructs with soft microenvironments, by using GelMA pre-hydrogel as the bioink for the core phase during bioprinting. As such, GelMA constructs at extremely low concentrations (<2.0%) could be extruded to effectively support cellular activities including proliferation and spreading for various cell types. We believe that our strategy is likely to provide broad opportunities in bioprinting of 3D constructs with cell-favorable microenvironments for applications in tissue engineering and pharmaceutical screening.
Project description:3D bioprinting technology provides programmable and customizable platforms to engineer cell-laden constructs mimicking human tissues for a wide range of biomedical applications. However, the encapsulated cells are often restricted in spreading and proliferation by dense biomaterial networks from gelation of bioinks. Herein, a cell-benign approach is reported to directly bioprint porous-structured hydrogel constructs by using an aqueous two-phase emulsion bioink. The bioink, which contains two immiscible aqueous phases of cell/gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) mixture and poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), is photocrosslinked to fabricate predesigned cell-laden hydrogel constructs by extrusion bioprinting or digital micromirror device-based stereolithographic bioprinting. The porous structure of the 3D-bioprinted hydrogel construct is formed by subsequently removing the PEO phase from the photocrosslinked GelMA hydrogel. Three different cell types (human hepatocellular carcinoma cells, human umbilical vein endothelial cells, and NIH/3T3 mouse embryonic fibroblasts) within the 3D-bioprinted porous hydrogel patterns show enhanced cell viability, spreading, and proliferation compared to the standard (i.e., nonporous) hydrogel constructs. The 3D bioprinting strategy is believed to provide a robust and versatile platform to engineer porous-structured tissue constructs and their models for a variety of applications in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, drug development, and personalized therapeutics.
Project description:Alginate is a commonly used bioink in 3D bioprinting. Matrix stiffness is a key determinant of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) differentiation, suggesting that modulation of alginate bioink mechanical properties represents a promising strategy to spatially regulate MSC fate within bioprinted tissues. In this study, we define a printability window for alginate of differing molecular weight (MW) by systematically varying the ratio of alginate to ionic crosslinker within the bioink. We demonstrate that the MW of such alginate bioinks, as well as the choice of ionic crosslinker, can be tuned to control the mechanical properties (Young's Modulus, Degradation Rate) of 3D printed constructs. These same factors are also shown to influence growth factor release from the bioinks. We next explored if spatially modulating the stiffness of 3D bioprinted hydrogels could be used to direct MSC fate inside printed tissues. Using the same alginate and crosslinker, but varying the crosslinking ratio, it is possible to bioprint constructs with spatially varying mechanical microenvironments. Moreover, these spatially varying microenvironments were found to have a significant effect on the fate of MSCs within the alginate bioinks, with stiffer regions of the bioprinted construct preferentially supporting osteogenesis over adipogenesis.
Project description:Bioprinting is an emerging technique for the fabrication of 3D cell-laden constructs. However, the progress for generating a 3D complex physiological microenvironment has been hampered by a lack of advanced cell-responsive bioinks that enable bioprinting with high structural fidelity, particularly in the case of extrusion-based bioprinting. Herein, this paper reports a novel strategy to directly bioprint cell-laden gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) constructs using bioinks of GelMA physical gels (GPGs) achieved through a simple cooling process. Attributed to their shear-thinning and self-healing properties, the GPG bioinks can retain the shape and form integral structures after deposition, allowing for subsequent UV crosslinking for permanent stabilization. This paper shows the structural fidelity by bioprinting various 3D structures that are typically challenging to fabricate using conventional bioinks under extrusion modes. Moreover, the use of the GPG bioinks enables direct bioprinting of highly porous and soft constructs at relatively low concentrations (down to 3%) of GelMA. It is also demonstrated that the bioprinted constructs not only permit cell survival but also enhance cell proliferation as well as spreading at lower concentrations of the GPG bioinks. It is believed that such a strategy of bioprinting will provide many opportunities in convenient fabrication of 3D cell-laden constructs for applications in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and pharmaceutical screening.
Project description:Engineering vascularized tissue constructs and organoids has been historically challenging. Here we describe a novel method based on microfluidic bioprinting to generate a scaffold with multilayer interlacing hydrogel microfibers. To achieve smooth bioprinting, a core-sheath microfluidic printhead containing a composite bioink formulation extruded from the core flow and the crosslinking solution carried by the sheath flow, was designed and fitted onto the bioprinter. By blending gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) with alginate, a polysaccharide that undergoes instantaneous ionic crosslinking in the presence of select divalent ions, followed by a secondary photocrosslinking of the GelMA component to achieve permanent stabilization, a microfibrous scaffold could be obtained using this bioprinting strategy. Importantly, the endothelial cells encapsulated inside the bioprinted microfibers can form the lumen-like structures resembling the vasculature over the course of culture for 16 days. The endothelialized microfibrous scaffold may be further used as a vascular bed to construct a vascularized tissue through subsequent seeding of the secondary cell type into the interstitial space of the microfibers. Microfluidic bioprinting provides a generalized strategy in convenient engineering of vascularized tissues at high fidelity.
Project description:Bioprinting is a powerful technique that allows precise and controlled 3D deposition of biomaterials in a predesigned, customizable, and reproducible manner. Cell-laden hydrogel ("bioink") bioprinting is especially advantageous for tissue engineering applications as multiple cells and biomaterial compositions can be selectively dispensed to create spatially well-defined architectures. Despite this promise, few hydrogel systems are easily available and suitable as bioinks, with even fewer systems allowing for molecular design of mechanical and biological properties. In this study, we report the development of a norbornene functionalized alginate system as a cell-laden bioink for extrusion-based bioprinting, with a rapid UV-induced thiol-ene cross-linking mechanism that avoids acrylate kinetic chain formation. The mechanical and swelling properties of the hydrogels are tunable by varying the concentration, length, and structure of dithiol PEG cross-linkers and can be further modified by postprinting secondary cross-linking with divalent ions such as calcium. The low concentrations of alginate needed (<2 wt %), coupled with their rapid in situ gelation, allow both the maintenance of high cell viability and the ability to fabricate large multilayer or multibioink constructs with identical bioprinting conditions. The modularity of this bioink platform design enables not only the rational design of materials properties but also the gel's biofunctionality (as shown via RGD attachment) for the expected tissue-engineering application. This modularity enables the creation of multizonal and multicellular constructs utilizing a chemically similar bioink platform. Such tailorable bioink platforms will enable increased complexity in 3D bioprinted constructs.
Project description:Despite the significant technological advancement in tissue engineering, challenges still exist towards the development of complex and fully functional tissue constructs that mimic their natural counterparts. To address these challenges, bioprinting has emerged as an enabling technology to create highly organized three-dimensional (3D) vascular networks within engineered tissue constructs to promote the transport of oxygen, nutrients, and waste products, which can hardly be realized using conventional microfabrication techniques. Here, we report the development of a versatile 3D bioprinting strategy that employs biomimetic biomaterials and an advanced extrusion system to deposit perfusable vascular structures with highly ordered arrangements in a single-step process. In particular, a specially designed cell-responsive bioink consisting of gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA), sodium alginate, and 4-arm poly(ethylene glycol)-tetra-acrylate (PEGTA) was used in combination with a multilayered coaxial extrusion system to achieve direct 3D bioprinting. This blend bioink could be first ionically crosslinked by calcium ions followed by covalent photocrosslinking of GelMA and PEGTA to form stable constructs. The rheological properties of the bioink and the mechanical strengths of the resulting constructs were tuned by the introduction of PEGTA, which facilitated the precise deposition of complex multilayered 3D perfusable hollow tubes. This blend bioink also displayed favorable biological characteristics that supported the spreading and proliferation of encapsulated endothelial and stem cells in the bioprinted constructs, leading to the formation of biologically relevant, highly organized, perfusable vessels. These characteristics make this novel 3D bioprinting technique superior to conventional microfabrication or sacrificial templating approaches for fabrication of the perfusable vasculature. We envision that our advanced bioprinting technology and bioink formulation may also have significant potentials in engineering large-scale vascularized tissue constructs towards applications in organ transplantation and repair.
Project description:Recent advances in three-dimensional (3-D) printing offer an excellent opportunity to address critical challenges faced by current tissue engineering approaches. Alginate hydrogels have been used extensively as bioinks for 3-D bioprinting. However, most previous research has focused on native alginates with limited degradation. The application of oxidized alginates with controlled degradation in bioprinting has not been explored. Here, a collection of 30 different alginate hydrogels with varied oxidation percentages and concentrations was prepared to develop a bioink platform that can be applied to a multitude of tissue engineering applications. The authors systematically investigated the effects of two key material properties (i.e. viscosity and density) of alginate solutions on their printabilities to identify a suitable range of material properties of alginates to be applied to bioprinting. Further, four alginate solutions with varied biodegradability were printed with human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs) into lattice-structured, cell-laden hydrogels with high accuracy. Notably, these alginate-based bioinks were shown to be capable of modulating proliferation and spreading of hADSCs without affecting the structure integrity of the lattice structures (except the highly degradable one) after 8days in culture. This research lays a foundation for the development of alginate-based bioink for tissue-specific tissue engineering applications.
Project description:Bioprinting is the most convenient microfabrication method to create biomimetic three-dimensional (3D) cardiac tissue constructs, which can be used to regenerate damaged tissue and provide platforms for drug screening. However, existing bioinks, which are usually composed of polymeric biomaterials, are poorly conductive and delay efficient electrical coupling between adjacent cardiac cells. To solve this problem, we developed a gold nanorod (GNR) incorporated gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA)-based bioink for printing 3D functional cardiac tissue constructs. The GNR concentration was adjusted to create a proper microenvironment for the spreading and organization of cardiac cells. At optimized concentration of GNR, the nanocomposite bioink had a low viscosity, similar to pristine inks, which allowed for the easy integration of cells at high densities. As a result, rapid deposition of cell-laden fibers at a high resolution was possible, while reducing shear stress on the encapsulated cells. In the printed GNR constructs, cardiac cells showed improved cell adhesion and organization when compared to the constructs without GNRs. Furthermore, the incorporated GNRs bridged the electrically resistant pore walls of polymers, improved the cell-to-cell coupling, and promoted synchronized contraction of the bioprinted constructs. Given its advantageous properties, this gold nanocomposite bioink may find wide application in cardiac tissue engineering.
Project description:Cell-laden hydrogels are the primary building blocks for bioprinting, and, also termed bioinks, are the foundations for creating structures that can potentially recapitulate the architecture of articular cartilage. To be functional, hydrogel constructs need to unlock the regenerative capacity of encapsulated cells. The recent identification of multipotent articular cartilage-resident chondroprogenitor cells (ACPCs), which share important traits with adult stem cells, represents a new opportunity for cartilage regeneration. However, little is known about the suitability of ACPCs for tissue engineering, especially in combination with biomaterials. This study aimed to investigate the potential of ACPCs in hydrogels for cartilage regeneration and biofabrication, and to evaluate their ability for zone-specific matrix production. Gelatin methacryloyl (gelMA)-based hydrogels were used to culture ACPCs, bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and chondrocytes, and as bioinks for printing. Our data shows ACPCs outperformed chondrocytes in terms of neo-cartilage production and unlike MSCs, ACPCs had the lowest gene expression levels of hypertrophy marker collagen type X, and the highest expression of PRG4, a key factor in joint lubrication. Co-cultures of the cell types in multi-compartment hydrogels allowed generating constructs with a layered distribution of collagens and glycosaminoglycans. By combining ACPC- and MSC-laden bioinks, a bioprinted model of articular cartilage was generated, consisting of defined superficial and deep regions, each with distinct cellular and extracellular matrix composition. Taken together, these results provide important information for the use of ACPC-laden hydrogels in regenerative medicine, and pave the way to the biofabrication of 3D constructs with multiple cell types for cartilage regeneration or in vitro tissue models. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE:Despite its limited ability to repair, articular cartilage harbors an endogenous population of progenitor cells (ACPCs), that to date, received limited attention in biomaterials and tissue engineering applications. Harnessing the potential of these cells in 3D hydrogels can open new avenues for biomaterial-based regenerative therapies, especially with advanced biofabrication technologies (e.g. bioprinting). This study highlights the potential of ACPCs to generate neo-cartilage in a gelatin-based hydrogel and bioink. The ACPC-laden hydrogel is a suitable substrate for chondrogenesis and data shows it has a bias in directing cells towards a superficial zone phenotype. For the first time, ACPC-hydrogels are evaluated both as alternative for and in combination with chondrocytes and MSCs, using co-cultures and bioprinting for cartilage regeneration in vitro. This study provides important cues on ACPCs, indicating they represent a promising cell source for the next generation of cartilage constructs with increased biomimicry.
Project description:The recently developed 3D bioprinting technology has greatly improved the ability to generate biomimetic tissues that are structurally and functionally relevant to their human counterparts. The selection of proper biomaterials as the bioinks is a key step toward successful bioprinting. For example, viscosity of a bioink is an important rheological parameter to determine the flexibility in deposition of free-standing structures and the maintenance of architectural integrity following bioprinting. This requirement, however, has greatly limited the selection of bioinks, especially for those naturally derived due to their commonly low mechanical properties. Here the generalization of a mechanism for extrusion bioprinting of bio-macromolecular components, mainly focusing on collagen and its derivatives including gelatin and gelatin methacryloyl, is reported. Specifically, a templating strategy is adopted using a composite bioink containing both the desired bio-macromolecular component and a polysaccharide alginate. The physically crosslinkable alginate component serves as the temporal structural support to stabilize the shape of the construct during bioprinting; upon subsequent chemical or physical crosslinking of the bio-macromolecular component, alginate can be selectively removed to leave only the desired bio-macromolecule. It is anticipated that this strategy is general, and can be readily expanded for use of a wide variety of other bio-macromolecular bioinks.