Microfabrication of complex porous tissue engineering scaffolds using 3D projection stereolithography

Biomaterials. 2012 May;33(15):3824-34. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.01.048. Epub 2012 Feb 25.


The success of tissue engineering will rely on the ability to generate complex, cell seeded three-dimensional (3D) structures. Therefore, methods that can be used to precisely engineer the architecture and topography of scaffolding materials will represent a critical aspect of functional tissue engineering. Previous approaches for 3D scaffold fabrication based on top-down and process driven methods are often not adequate to produce complex structures due to the lack of control on scaffold architecture, porosity, and cellular interactions. The proposed projection stereolithography (PSL) platform can be used to design intricate 3D tissue scaffolds that can be engineered to mimic the microarchitecture of tissues, based on computer aided design (CAD). The PSL system was developed, programmed and optimized to fabricate 3D scaffolds using gelatin methacrylate (GelMA). Variation of the structure and prepolymer concentration enabled tailoring the mechanical properties of the scaffolds. A dynamic cell seeding method was utilized to improve the coverage of the scaffold throughout its thickness. The results demonstrated that the interconnectivity of pores allowed for uniform human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) distribution and proliferation in the scaffolds, leading to high cell density and confluency at the end of the culture period. Moreover, immunohistochemistry results showed that cells seeded on the scaffold maintained their endothelial phenotype, demonstrating the biological functionality of the microfabricated GelMA scaffolds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microtechnology / methods*
  • Porosity
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins