3D-manufactured hydrogels with precise contours and biological adhesion motifs are interesting candidates in the regenerative medicine field for the culture and differentiation of human bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). 3D-bioprinting is a powerful technique to approach one step closer the native organization of cells. This study investigates the effect of the incorporation of collagen type I in 3D-bioprinted polysaccharide-based hydrogels to the modulation of cell morphology, osteogenic remodeling potential, and mineralization. By combining thermo-responsive agarose hydrogels with collagen type I, the mechanical stiffness and printing contours of printed constructs can be improved compared to pure collagen hydrogels which are typically used as standard materials for MSC osteogenic differentiation. The results presented here show that MSC not only survive the 3D-bioprinting process but also maintain the mesenchymal phenotype, as proved by live/dead staining and immunocytochemistry (vimentin positive, CD34 negative). Increased solids concentrations of collagen in the hydrogel blend induce changes in cell morphology, namely, by enhancing cell spreading, that ultimately contribute to enhanced and directed MSC osteogenic differentiation. 3D-bioprinted agarose-collagen hydrogels with high-collagen ratio are therefore feasible for MSC osteogenic differentiation, contrarily to low-collagen blends, as proved by two-photon microscopy, Alizarin Red staining, and real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Keywords: 3D-bioprinting; human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells; hydrogels; mineralization; osteogenesis.
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