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4D Printed Cardiac Construct with Aligned Myofibers and Adjustable Curvature for Myocardial Regeneration

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journal contribution
posted on 06.01.2021, 20:50 authored by Yue Wang, Haitao Cui, Yancheng Wang, Chengyao Xu, Timothy J. Esworthy, Sung Yun Hann, Manfred Boehm, Yin-Lin Shen, Deqing Mei, Lijie Grace Zhang
As an innovative additive manufacturing process, 4D printing can be utilized to generate predesigned, self-assembly structures which can actuate time-dependent, and dynamic shape-changes. Compared to other manufacturing techniques used for tissue engineering purposes, 4D printing has the advantage of being able to fabricate reprogrammable dynamic tissue constructs that can promote uniform cellular growth and distribution. For this study, a digital light processing (DLP)-based printing technique was developed to fabricate 4D near-infrared (NIR) light-sensitive cardiac constructs with highly aligned microstructure and adjustable curvature. As the curvature of the heart is varied across its surface, the 4D cardiac constructs can change their shape on-demand to mimic and recreate the curved topology of myocardial tissue for seamless integration. To mimic the aligned structure of the human myocardium and to achieve the 4D shape change, a NIR light-sensitive 4D ink material, consisting of a shape memory polymer and graphene, was created to fabricate microgroove arrays with different widths. The results of our study illustrate that our innovative NIR-responsive 4D constructs exhibit the capacity to actuate a dynamic and remotely controllable spatiotemporal transformation. Furthermore, the optimal microgroove width was discovered via culturing human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and mesenchymal stem cells onto the constructs’ surface and analyzing both their cellular morphology and alignment. The cell proliferation profiles and differentiation of tricultured human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes, mesenchymal stem cells, and endothelial cells, on the printed constructs, were also studied using a Cell Counting Kit-8 and immunostaining. Our results demonstrate a uniform distribution of aligned cells and excellent myocardial maturation on our 4D curved cardiac constructs. This study not only provides an efficient method for manufacturing curved tissue architectures with uniform cell distributions, but also extends the potential applications of 4D printing for tissue regeneration.