Complex heterogeneous tissue constructs containing multiple cell types prepared by inkjet printing technology

Biomaterials. 2013 Jan;34(1):130-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.09.035. Epub 2012 Oct 10.


This study was designed to develop a versatile method for fabricating complex and heterogeneous three-dimensional (3D) tissue constructs using simultaneous ink-jetting of multiple cell types. Human amniotic fluid-derived stem cells (hAFSCs), canine smooth muscle cells (dSMCs), and bovine aortic endothelial cells (bECs), were separately mixed with ionic cross-linker calcium chloride (CaCl(2)), loaded into separate ink cartridges and printed using a modified thermal inkjet printer. The three cell types were delivered layer-by-layer to pre-determined locations in a sodium alginate-collagen composite located in a chamber under the printer. The reaction between CaCl(2) and sodium alginate resulted in a rapid formation of a solid composite gel and the printed cells were anchored in designated areas within the gel. The printing process was repeated for several cycles leading to a complex 3D multi-cell hybrid construct. The biological functions of the 3D printed constructs were evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Each of the printed cell types maintained their viability and normal proliferation rates, phenotypic expression, and physiological functions within the heterogeneous constructs. The bioprinted constructs were able to survive and mature into functional tissues with adequate vascularization in vivo. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of fabricating complex heterogeneous tissue constructs containing multiple cell types using inkjet printing technology.

MeSH terms

  • Amniotic Fluid / cytology
  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cattle
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Dogs
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Implants, Experimental
  • Ink*
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Osteogenesis
  • Phenotype
  • Printing / methods*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • X-Ray Microtomography