American Chemical Society
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Collagen-Based Thiol–Norbornene Photoclick Bio-Ink with Excellent Bioactivity and Printability

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-02-01, 05:33 authored by Kai Guo, Heran Wang, Shijie Li, Hui Zhang, Song Li, Huixuan Zhu, Zhenda Yang, Liming Zhang, Peng Chang, Xiongfei Zheng
As the essential foundation of bioprinting technology, cell-laden bio-ink is confronted with the inevitable contradiction between printability and bioactivity. For example, type I collagen has been widely applied for its excellent biocompatibility; however, its relatively low self-assembly speed restricts the performance in high-precision bioprinting of cell-laden structures. In this study, we synthesize norbornene-functionalized neutral soluble collagen (NorCol) by the reaction of acid-soluble collagen (Col) and carbic anhydride in the aqueous phase. NorCol retains collagen triple-helical conformation and can be quickly orthogonally cross-linked to build a cell-laden hydrogel via a cell-friendly thiol-ene photoclick reaction. Moreover, the additional carboxyl groups produced in the reaction of carbic anhydride and collagen obviously improve the solubility of NorCol in neutral buffer and miscibility of NorCol with other polymers such as alginate and gelatin. It enables hybrid bio-ink to respond to multiple stimuli, resulting in continuous cross-linked NorCol networks in hybrid hydrogels. For the first time, the collagen with a triple helix structure and gelatin can be mixed and printed, keeping the integrity of the printed construct after gelatin’s dissolution. The molecular interaction among giant collagen molecules allows NorCol hydrogel formation at a low concentration, which leads to excellent cell spreading, migration, and proliferation. These properties give NorCol flexible formability and excellent biocompatibility in temperature-, ion-, and photo-based bioprinting. We speculate that NorCol is a promising bio-ink for emerging demands in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and personalized therapeutics.