3D Printed Cartilage-Like Tissue Constructs with Spatially Controlled Mechanical Properties

Bruna A.G. de Melo, Yasamin A. Jodat, Shreya Mehrotra, Michelle A. Calabrese, Tom Kamperman, Biman B. Mandal, Maria H.A. Santana, Eben Alsberg, Jeroen Leijten*, Su Ryon Shin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)
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Developing biomimetic cartilaginous tissues that support locomotion while maintaining chondrogenic behavior is a major challenge in the tissue engineering field. Specifically, while locomotive forces demand tissues with strong mechanical properties, chondrogenesis requires a soft microenvironment. To address this challenge, 3D cartilage-like tissue is fabricated using two biomaterials with different mechanical properties: a hard biomaterial to reflect the macromechanical properties of native cartilage, and a soft biomaterial to create a chondrogenic microenvironment. To this end, a bath composed of an interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and alginate hydrogel (MPa order compressive modulus) is developed as an extracellular matrix (ECM) with self-healing properties. Within this bath supplemented with thrombin, human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) spheroids embedded in fibrinogen are 3D bioprinted, creating a soft microenvironment composed of fibrin (kPa order compressive modulus) that simulate cartilage's pericellular matrix and allow a fast diffusion of nutrients. The bioprinted hMSC spheroids present high viability and chondrogenic-like behavior without adversely affecting the macromechanical properties of the tissue. Therefore, the ability to locally bioprint a soft and cell stimulating biomaterial inside of a mechanically robust hydrogel is demonstrated, thereby uncoupling the micro- and macromechanical properties of the 3D printed tissues such as cartilage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1906330
JournalAdvanced functional materials
Issue number51
Early online date21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2019


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • cartilage
  • fibrin
  • IPN
  • spheroids
  • bioprinting

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