skip to main content

Title: Effects of transglutaminase cross-linking process on printability of gelatin microgel-gelatin solution composite bioink
Abstract Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting has emerged as a powerful engineering approach for various tissue engineering applications, particularly for the development of 3D cellular structures with unique mechanical and/or biological properties. For the jammed gelatin microgel-gelatin solution composite bioink, comprising a discrete phase of microgels (enzymatically gelled gelatin microgels) and a cross-linkable continuous gelatin precursor solution-based phase containing transglutaminase (TG), its rheological properties and printability change gradually due to the TG enzyme-induced cross-linking process. The objective of this study is to establish a direct mapping between the printability of the gelatin microgel-gelatin solution based cross-linkable composite bioink and the TG concentration and cross-linking time, respectively. Due to the inclusion of TG in the composite bioink, the bioink starts cross-linking once prepared and is usually prepared right before a printing process. Herein, the bioink printability is evaluated based on the three metrics: injectability, feature formability, and process-induced cell injury. In this study, the rheological properties such as the storage modulus and viscosity have been first systematically investigated and predicted at different TG concentrations and times during the cross-linking process using the first-order cross-linking kinetics model. The storage modulus and viscosity have been satisfactorily modeled as exponential functions of the TG concentration and more » time with an experimentally calibrated cross-linking kinetic rate constant. Furthermore, the injectability, feature formability, and process-induced cell injury have been successfully correlated to the TG concentration and cross-linking time via the storage modulus, viscosity, and/or process-induced shear stress. By combing the good injectability, good feature formability, and satisfactory cell viability zones, a good printability zone (1.65, 0.61, and 0.31 h for the composite bioinks with 1.00, 2.00, and 4.00% w/v TG, respectively) has been established during the printing of mouse fibroblast-based 2% gelatin B microgel-3% gelatin B solution composite bioink. This printability zone approach can be extended to the use of other cross-linkable bioinks for bioprinting applications. « less
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Granular, microgel‐based materials have garnered interest as promising tissue engineering scaffolds due to their inherent porosity, which can promote cell infiltration. Adapting these materials for 3D bioprinting, while maintaining sufficient void space to enable cell migration, can be challenging, since the rheological properties that determine printability are strongly influenced by microgel packing and void fraction. In this work, a strategy is proposed to decouple printability and void fraction by blending UV‐crosslinkable gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) microgels with sacrificial gelatin microgels to form composite inks. It is observed that inks with an apparent viscosity greater than ≈100 Pa s (corresponding to microgel concentrations ≥5 wt%) have rheological properties that enable extrusion‐based printing of multilayered structures in air. By altering the ratio of GelMA to sacrificial gelatin microgels, while holding total concentration constant at 6 wt%, a family of GelMA:gelatin microgel inks is created that allows for tuning of void fraction from 0.20 to 0.57. Furthermore, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) seeded onto printed constructs are observed to migrate into granular inks in a void fraction‐dependent manner. Thus, the family of microgel inks holds promise for use in 3D printing and tissue engineering applications that rely upon cell infiltration.

  2. The generation of 3D tissue constructs with multiple cell types and matching mechanical properties remains a challenge in cardiac tissue engineering. Recently, 3D bioprinting has become a powerful tool to achieve these goals. Decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) is a common scaffold material due to providing a native biochemical environment. Unfortunately, dECM’s low mechanical stability prevents usage for bioprinting applications alone. In this study, we developed bioinks composed of decellularized human heart ECM (dhECM) with either gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) or GelMA-methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) hydrogels dual crosslinked with UV light and microbial transglutaminase (mTGase). We characterized the bioinks’ mechanical, rheological, swelling, printability, and biocompatibility properties. Composite GelMA–MeHA–dhECM (GME) hydrogels demonstrated improved mechanical properties by an order of magnitude compared to the GelMA–dhECM (GE) hydrogels. All hydrogels were extrudable and compatible with human induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes (iCMs) and human cardiac fibroblasts (hCFs). Tissue-like beating of the printed constructs with striated sarcomeric alpha-actinin and connexin 43 expression was observed. The order of magnitude difference between the elastic modulus of these hydrogel composites offers applications in in vitro modeling of the myocardial infarct boundary. Here, as a proof of concept, we created an infarct boundary region with control over the mechanicalmore »properties along with the cellular and macromolecular content through printing iCMs with GE bioink and hCFs with GME bioink.« less
  3. Abstract

    Microgels have recently received widespread attention for their applications in a wide array of domains such as tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and cell and tissue transplantation because of their properties like injectability, modularity, porosity, and the ability to be customized in terms of size, form, and mechanical properties. However, it is still challenging to mass (high-throughput) produce microgels with diverse sizes and tunable properties. Herein, we utilized an air-assisted co-axial device (ACAD) for continuous production of microgels in a high-throughput manner. To test its robustness, microgels of multiple hydrogels and their combination, including alginate (Alg), gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) and Alg–GelMA, were formed at a maximum production rate of ∼65 000 microgels s−1while retaining circularity and a size range of 50–500µm based on varying air pressure levels. The ACAD platform allowed single and multiple cell encapsulation with 74 ± 6% efficiency. These microgels illustrated appealing rheological properties such as yield stress, viscosity, and shear modulus for bioprinting applications. Specifically, Alg microgels have the potential to be used as a sacrificial support bath while GelMA microgels have potential for direct extrusion both on their own or when loaded in a bulk GelMA hydrogel. Generated microgels showed high cell viability (>90%) and proliferationmore »of MDA-MB-231 and human dermal fibroblasts over seven days in both encapsulation and scaffolding applications, particularly for GelMA microgels. The developed strategy provides a facile and rapid approach without any complex or expensive consumables and accessories for scalable high-throughput microgel production for cell therapy, tissue regeneration and 3D bioprinting applications.

    « less
  4. Abstract

    Shear‐thinning hydrogels are useful for biomedical applications, from 3D bioprinting to injectable biomaterials. Although they have the appropriate properties for injection, it may be advantageous to decouple injectability from the controlled release of encapsulated therapeutics. Toward this, composites of hydrogels and encapsulated microgels are introduced with microgels that are fabricated via microfluidics. The microgel cross‐linker controls degradation and entrapped molecule release, and the concentration of microgels alters composite hydrogel rheological properties. For the treatment of myocardial infarction (MI), interleukin‐10 (IL‐10) is encapsulated in microgels and released from composites. In a rat model of MI, composites with IL‐10 reduce macrophage density after 1 week and improve scar thickness, ejection fraction, cardiac output, and the size of vascular structures after 4 weeks when compared to saline injection. Improvements are also observed with the composite without IL‐10 over saline, emphasizing the role of injectable hydrogels alone on tissue repair.

  5. Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting is important in the development of complex tissue structures for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. However, the materials used for bioprinting, referred to as bioinks, must have a balance between a high viscosity for rapid solidification after extrusion and low shear force for cytocompatibility, which is difficult to achieve. Here, a novel bioink consisting of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) microgels prepared via off-stoichiometry thiol–ene click chemistry is introduced. Importantly, the microgel bioink is easily extruded, exhibits excellent stability after printing due to interparticle adhesion forces, and can be photochemically annealed with a second thiol–ene click reaction to confer long-term stability to printed constructs. The modularity of the bioink is also an advantage, as the PEG microgels have highly tunable physicochemical properties. The low force required for extrusion and cytocompatibility of the thiol–ene annealing reaction also permit cell incorporation during printing with high viability, and cells are able to spread and proliferate in the interstitial spaces between the microgels after the constructs have been annealed. Overall, these results indicate that our microgel bioink is a promising and versatile platform that could be leveraged for bioprinting and regenerative manufacturing.