Objectives: Bioprinting of bone and cartilage suffers from low mechanical properties. Here we have developed a unique inkjet bioprinting approach of creating mechanically strong bone and cartilage tissue constructs using poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate, gelatin methacrylate, and human MSCs.
Results: The printed hMSCs were evenly distributed in the polymerized PEG-GelMA scaffold during layer-by-layer assembly. The procedure showed a good biocompatibility with >80% of the cells surviving the printing process and the resulting constructs provided strong mechanical support to the embedded cells. The printed mesenchymal stem cells showed an excellent osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation capacity. Both osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation as determined by specific gene and protein expression analysis (RUNX2, SP7, DLX5, ALPL, Col1A1, IBSP, BGLAP, SPP1, Col10A1, MMP13, SOX9, Col2A1, ACAN) was improved by PEG-GelMA in comparison to PEG alone. These observations were consistent with the histological evaluation.
Conclusions: Inkjet bioprinted-hMSCs in simultaneously photocrosslinked PEG-GelMA hydrogel scaffolds demonstrated an improvement of mechanical properties and osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation, suggesting its promising potential for usage in bone and cartilage tissue engineering.
Keywords: Bone; Cartilage; Hydrogel; Inkjet bioprinting; Mesenchymal stem cells; Photopolymerization.