3D bioprinted hydrogel model incorporating β-tricalcium phosphate for calcified cartilage tissue engineering

Biofabrication. 2019 May 3;11(3):035016. doi: 10.1088/1758-5090/ab15cb.


One promising strategy to reconstruct osteochondral defects relies on 3D bioprinted three-zonal structures comprised of hyaline cartilage, calcified cartilage, and subchondral bone. So far, several studies have pursued the regeneration of either hyaline cartilage or bone in vitro while-despite its key role in the osteochondral region-only few of them have targeted the calcified layer. In this work, we present a 3D biomimetic hydrogel scaffold containing β-tricalcium phosphate (TCP) for engineering calcified cartilage through a co-axial needle system implemented in extrusion-based bioprinting process. After a thorough bioink optimization, we showed that 0.5% w/v TCP is the optimal concentration forming stable scaffolds with high shape fidelity and endowed with biological properties relevant for the development of calcified cartilage. In particular, we investigate the effect induced by ceramic nano-particles over the differentiation capacity of bioprinted bone marrow-derived human mesenchymal stem cells in hydrogel scaffolds cultured up to 21 d in chondrogenic media. To confirm the potential of the presented approach to generate a functional in vitro model of calcified cartilage tissue, we evaluated quantitatively gene expression of relevant chondrogenic (COL1, COL2, COL10A1, ACAN) and osteogenic (ALPL, BGLAP) gene markers by means of RT-qPCR and qualitatively by means of fluorescence immunocytochemistry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bioprinting*
  • Calcification, Physiologic / drug effects*
  • Calcium Phosphates / chemistry*
  • Chondrogenesis / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyaline Cartilage / drug effects
  • Hyaline Cartilage / physiology*
  • Hydrogels / pharmacology*
  • Ink
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Optical Imaging
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Temperature
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry
  • Viscosity


  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Hydrogels
  • RNA, Messenger
  • beta-tricalcium phosphate