Carbon-based nanomaterials have been considered as promising candidates to mimic certain structure and function of native extracellular matrix materials for tissue engineering. Significant progress has been made in fabricating carbon nanoparticle-incorporated cell culture substrates, but limited studies have been reported on the development of three-dimensional (3D) tissue constructs using these nanomaterials. Here, we present a novel approach to engineer 3D multi-layered constructs using layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly of cells separated with self-assembled graphene oxide (GO)-based thin films. The GO-based structures are shown to serve as cell adhesive sheets that effectively facilitate the formation of multi-layer cell constructs with interlayer connectivity. By controlling the amount of GO deposited in forming the thin films, the thickness of the multi-layer tissue constructs could be tuned with high cell viability. Specifically, this approach could be useful for creating dense and tightly connected cardiac tissues through the co-culture of cardiomyocytes and other cell types. In this work, we demonstrated the fabrication of stand-alone multi-layer cardiac tissues with strong spontaneous beating behavior and programmable pumping properties. Therefore, this LbL-based cell construct fabrication approach, utilizing GO thin films formed directly on cell surfaces, has great potential in engineering 3D tissue structures with improved organization, electrophysiological function, and mechanical integrity.
Keywords: Cardiac tissue engineering; Graphene oxide; Poly L-lysine; Three-dimensional tissue construct; layer-by-layer.