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3D Printing of Vascular Tubes Using Bioelastomer Prepolymers by Freeform Reversible Embedding

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journal contribution
posted on 11.02.2020 by Houman Savoji, Locke Davenport Huyer, Mohammad Hossein Mohammadi, Benjamin Fook Lun Lai, Naimeh Rafatian, Dawn Bannerman, Mohammad Shoaib, Erin R. Bobicki, Arun Ramachandran, Milica Radisic
Bioelastomers have been extensively used in tissue engineering applications because of favorable mechanical stability, tunable properties, and chemical versatility. As these materials generally possess low elastic modulus and relatively long gelation time, it is challenging to 3D print them using traditional techniques. Instead, the field of 3D printing has focused preferentially on hydrogels and rigid polyester materials. To develop a versatile approach for 3D printing of elastomers, we used freeform reversible embedding of suspended prepolymers. A family of novel fast photocrosslinakble bioelastomer prepolymers were synthesized from dimethyl itaconate, 1,8-octanediol, and triethyl citrate. Tensile testing confirmed their elastic properties with Young’s moduli in the range of 11–53 kPa. These materials supported cultivation of viable cells and enabled adhesion and proliferation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Tubular structures were created by embedding the 3D printed microtubes within a secondary hydrogel that served as a temporary support. Upon photocrosslinking and porogen leaching, the polymers were permeable to small molecules (TRITC-dextran). The polymer microtubes were assembled on the 96-well plates custom made by hot-embossing, as a tool to connect multiple organs-on-a-chip. The endothelialization of the tubes was performed to confirm that these microtubes can be utilized as vascular tubes to support parenchymal tissues seeded on them.