Three-dimensional printing of stem cell-laden hydrogels submerged in a hydrophobic high-density fluid

Biofabrication. 2013 Mar;5(1):015003. doi: 10.1088/1758-5082/5/1/015003. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Over the last decade, bioprinting technologies have begun providing important tissue engineering strategies for regenerative medicine and organ transplantation. The major drawback of past approaches has been poor or inadequate material-printing device and substrate combinations, as well as the relatively small size of the printed construct. Here, we hypothesise that cell-laden hydrogels can be printed when submerged in perfluorotributylamine (C(12)F(27)N), a hydrophobic high-density fluid, and that these cells placed within three-dimensional constructs remain viable allowing for cell proliferation and production of extracellular matrix. Human mesenchymal stem cells and MG-63 cells were encapsulated into agarose hydrogels, and subsequently printed in high aspect ratio in three dimensional structures that were supported in high density fluorocarbon. Three-dimensional structures with various shapes and sizes were manufactured and remained stable for more than six months. Live/dead and DAPI stainings showed viable cells 24 h after the printing process, as well as after 21 days in culture. Histological and immunohistochemical analyses after 14 and 21 days revealed viable cells with marked matrix production and signs of proliferation. The compressive strength values of the printed gels consequently increased during the two weeks in culture, revealing encouraging results for future applications in regenerative medicine.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Bioprinting / instrumentation
  • Bioprinting / methods*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fluorocarbons / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Tissue Engineering / instrumentation*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*


  • Fluorocarbons
  • Hydrogels
  • perfluorotributylamine