3D bioprinting for engineering complex tissues

Biotechnol Adv. Jul-Aug 2016;34(4):422-434. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.12.011. Epub 2015 Dec 23.


Bioprinting is a 3D fabrication technology used to precisely dispense cell-laden biomaterials for the construction of complex 3D functional living tissues or artificial organs. While still in its early stages, bioprinting strategies have demonstrated their potential use in regenerative medicine to generate a variety of transplantable tissues, including skin, cartilage, and bone. However, current bioprinting approaches still have technical challenges in terms of high-resolution cell deposition, controlled cell distributions, vascularization, and innervation within complex 3D tissues. While no one-size-fits-all approach to bioprinting has emerged, it remains an on-demand, versatile fabrication technique that may address the growing organ shortage as well as provide a high-throughput method for cell patterning at the micrometer scale for broad biomedical engineering applications. In this review, we introduce the basic principles, materials, integration strategies and applications of bioprinting. We also discuss the recent developments, current challenges and future prospects of 3D bioprinting for engineering complex tissues. Combined with recent advances in human pluripotent stem cell technologies, 3D-bioprinted tissue models could serve as an enabling platform for high-throughput predictive drug screening and more effective regenerative therapies.

Keywords: 3D printing; Bioink; Bioprinting; Drug screening; Hydrogel; Regenerative medicine; Tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioprinting*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels
  • Mice
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*
  • Regenerative Medicine*
  • Tissue Engineering*


  • Hydrogels