Progress within the eld of biofabrication is hindered by a lack of suitable hydrogel formulations. Here, we present a novel approach based on a hybrid printing technique to create cellularized 3D printed constructs. The hybrid bioprinting strategy combines a reinforcing gel for mechanical support with a bioink to provide a cytocompatible environment. In comparison with thermoplastics such as ϵ-polycaprolactone, the hydrogel-based reinforcing gel platform enables printing at cell-friendly temperatures, targets the bioprinting of softer tissues and allows for improved control over degradation kinetics. We prepared amphiphilic macromonomers based on poloxamer that form hydrolysable, covalently cross-linked polymer networks. Dissolved at a concentration of 28.6%w/w in water, it functions as reinforcing gel, while a 5%w/w gelatin-methacryloyl based gel is utilized as bioink. This strategy allows for the creation of complex structures, where the bioink provides a cytocompatible environment for encapsulated cells. Cell viability of equine chondrocytes encapsulated within printed constructs remained largely unaffected by the printing process. The versatility of the system is further demonstrated by the ability to tune the stiffness of printed constructs between 138 and 263 kPa, as well as to tailor the degradation kinetics of the reinforcing gel from several weeks up to more than a year.
Melchels, F., Blokzijl, M., Levato, R., Peiffer, Q., De Ruijter, M., Hennink, W. E., Vermonden, T., & Malda, J. (2016). Hydrogel-based reinforcement of 3D bioprinted constructs. Biofabrication, 8(3), . https://doi.org/10.1088/1758-5090/8/3/035004