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Hydrogel Bioink with Multilayered Interfaces Improves Dispersibility of Encapsulated Cells in Extrusion Bioprinting

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journal contribution
posted on 19.08.2019, 12:36 by Nan Chen, Kai Zhu, Yu Shrike Zhang, Shiqiang Yan, Tianyi Pan, Mieradilijiang Abudupataer, Guodong Yu, Md. Fazle Alam, Li Wang, Xiaoning Sun, Yanlei Yu, Chunsheng Wang, Weijia Zhang
One of the challenges for extrusion bioprinting using low-viscosity bioinks is the fast gravity-driven sedimentation of cells. Cells in a hydrogel bioink that features low viscosity tend to settle to the bottom of the bioink reservoir, and as such, their bioprintability is hindered by association with the inhomogeneous cellularized structures that are deposited. This is particularly true in cases where longer periods are required to print complex or larger tissue constructs. Increasing the bioink’s viscosity efficiently retards sedimentation but gives rise to cell membranolysis or functional disruption due to increased shear stress on the cells during the extrusion process. Inspired by the rainbow cocktail, we report the development of a multilayered modification strategy for gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) bioink to manipulate multiple liquid interfaces, providing interfacial retention to retard cell sedimentation in the bioink reservoir. Indeed, the interfacial tension in our layer-by-layer bioink system, characterized by the pendant drop method, was found to be exponentially higher than the sedimental pull (ΔGravity‑Buoyancy = ∼10–9 N) of cells, indicating that the interfacial retention is crucial for preventing cell sedimentation across the adjacent layers. It was demonstrated that the encapsulated cells displayed better dispersibility in constructs bioprinted using the multilayered GelMA bioink system than that of pristine GelMA where the index of homogeneity of the cell distribution in the multilayered bioink was 4 times that of the latter.