3D bioprinting technology can create engineered scaffolds that mimic natural tissues. In order to regenerate applications, it is a complex and challenging process to control the tissues in these engineered scaffolds.
Cell tissues tend to be highly ordered in spatial distribution and arrangement. Therefore, bioengineered cell scaffolds used for tissue engineering applications must be very close to this orientation in order to function like natural tissues.
In “Applied Physics Reviews” published by AIP, an international research team described their use of a method called multi-chamber bioprinting to guide cell orientation in deposited hydrogel fibers.
The bio-manufacturing of multi-compartment hydrogel fibers is used to form multi-scale bionic structures.
The team used static mixing to create striped hydrogel fibers, which are filled with microfilaments from different hydrogels. In this structure, some compartments provide a favorable environment for cell proliferation, while other compartments serve as morphological clues to guide cell arrangement. Millimeter-scale printed fibers with micro-scale topologies can quickly organize cells and make engineered tissues mature faster.
Ali Tamayol, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Connecticut Health Branch and co-author of the study, said that this strategy is based on two principles. The formation of the topography is based on the design of the fluid in the nozzle and the controllable mixing of two different precursors. After cross-linking, the interface between the two materials serves as a three-dimensional surface, providing topographical clues for the cells wrapped in the cell permitting chamber.
Extrusion-based bioprinting is the most widely used bioprinting method. In extrusion-based bioprinting, the printed fibers are usually hundreds of microns in size, and the cells are randomly oriented. Therefore, it is very ideal to provide topographic clues to the cells in these fibers to guide their organization.
Traditional extrusion bioprinting technology is also affected by high shear stress during the process of extruding filaments. However, the fine-scale features of this technology are passive and do not affect other parameters of the printing process.
According to the team, in order to guide cell organization, extrusion-based 3D bioprinted scaffolds should be made of very thin fibers.
Tamayol says this makes the process challenging and limits its biocompatibility and the number of materials available, but with this strategy, larger fibers can still guide cell organization.
Tamayol said that this bioprinting technology can produce morphological features of tissue structures with a resolution comparable to the size of cells, thereby controlling cell behavior and forming bionic structures. And it shows great potential in fibrous tissue engineering such as skeletal muscles, tendons and ligaments.
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