Replacement of Rat Tracheas by Layered, Trachea-Like, Scaffold-Free Structures of Human Cells Using a Bio-3D Printing System

Adv Healthc Mater. 2019 Apr;8(7):e1800983. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201800983. Epub 2019 Jan 11.


Current scaffold-based tissue engineering approaches are subject to several limitations, such as design inflexibility, poor cytocompatibility, toxicity, and post-transplant degradation. Thus, scaffold-free tissue-engineered structures can be a promising solution to overcome the issues associated with classical scaffold-based materials in clinical transplantation. The present study seeks to optimize the culture conditions and cell combinations used to generate scaffold-free structures using a Bio-3D printing system. Human cartilage cells, human fibroblasts, human umbilical vein endothelial cells, and human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow are aggregated into spheroids and placed into a Bio-3D printing system with dedicated needles positioned according to 3D configuration data, to develop scaffold-free trachea-like tubes. Culturing the Bio-3D-printed structures with proper flow of specific medium in a bioreactor facilitates the rearrangement and self-organization of cells, improving physical strength and tissue function. The Bio-3D-printed tissue forms small-diameter trachea-like tubes that are implanted into rats with the support of catheters. It is confirmed that the tubes are viable in vivo and that the tracheal epithelium and capillaries proliferate. This tissue-engineered, scaffold-free, tubular structure can represent a significant step toward clinical application of bioengineered organs.

Keywords: bio-3D printers; bioengineered organs; scaffold-free; tissue engineering; tracheal regeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioprinting / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chondrocytes / cytology
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Glycosaminoglycans / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*
  • Rats
  • Spheroids, Cellular / cytology
  • Spheroids, Cellular / metabolism
  • Spheroids, Cellular / transplantation
  • Tensile Strength
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry
  • Trachea / chemistry*
  • Trachea / pathology


  • Glycosaminoglycans