3D Printing of Thermoresponsive Polyisocyanide (PIC) Hydrogels as Bioink and Fugitive Material for Tissue Engineering

Polymers (Basel). 2018 May 21;10(5):555. doi: 10.3390/polym10050555.


Despite the rapid and great developments in the field of 3D hydrogel printing, a major ongoing challenge is represented by the development of new processable materials that can be effectively used for bioink formulation. In this work, we present an approach to 3D deposit, a new class of fully-synthetic, biocompatible PolyIsoCyanide (PIC) hydrogels that exhibit a reverse gelation temperature close to physiological conditions (37 °C). Being fully-synthetic, PIC hydrogels are particularly attractive for tissue engineering, as their properties-such as hydrogel stiffness, polymer solubility, and gelation kinetics-can be precisely tailored according to process requirements. Here, for the first time, we demonstrate the feasibility of both 3D printing PIC hydrogels and of creating dual PIC-Gelatin MethAcrylate (GelMA) hydrogel systems. Furthermore, we propose the use of PIC as fugitive hydrogel to template structures within GelMA hydrogels. The presented approach represents a robust and valid alternative to other commercial thermosensitive systems-such as those based on Pluronic F127-for the fabrication of 3D hydrogels through additive manufacturing technologies to be used as advanced platforms in tissue engineering.

Keywords: 3D bioprinting; 3D hydrogel scaffolds; dual hydrogel system; polyisocyanide (PIC) hydrogels; thermoresponsive polymers.