The 3D bioprinting technology serves as a powerful tool for building tissue in the field of tissue engineering. Traditional 3D printing methods involve the use of heat, toxic organic solvents, or toxic photoinitiators for fabrication of synthetic scaffolds. In this study, two thermoresponsive water-based biodegradable polyurethane dispersions (PU1 and PU2) were synthesized which may form gel near 37 °C without any crosslinker. The stiffness of the hydrogel could be easily fine-tuned by the solid content of the dispersion. Neural stem cells (NSCs) were embedded into the polyurethane dispersions before gelation. The dispersions containing NSCs were subsequently printed and maintained at 37 °C. The NSCs in 25-30% PU2 hydrogels (∼680-2400 Pa) had excellent proliferation and differentiation but not in 25-30% PU1 hydrogels. Moreover, NSC-laden 25-30% PU2 hydrogels injected into the zebrafish embryo neural injury model could rescue the function of impaired nervous system. However, NSC-laden 25-30% PU1 hydrogels only showed a minor repair effect in the zebrafish model. In addition, the function of adult zebrafish with traumatic brain injury was rescued after implantation of the 3D-printed NSC-laden 25% PU2 constructs. Therefore, the newly developed 3D bioprinting technique involving NSCs embedded in the thermoresponsive biodegradable polyurethane ink offers new possibilities for future applications of 3D bioprinting in neural tissue engineering.
Keywords: 3D bioprinting; Neural stem cells; Neural tissue engineering; Polyurethane; Thermoresponsive.
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