Bioprinting, a promising field in regenerative medicine, holds great potential to create three-dimensional, defect-specific vascularized bones with tremendous opportunities to address unmet craniomaxillofacial reconstructive challenges. A cytocompatible bioink is a critical prerequisite to successfully regenerate functional bone tissue. Synthetic self-assembling peptides have a nanofibrous structure resembling the native extracellular matrix (ECM), making them an excellent bioink component. Amorphous magnesium phosphates (AMPs) have shown greater levels of resorption while maintaining high biocompatibility, osteoinductivity, and low inflammatory response, as compared to their calcium phosphate counterparts. Here, we have established a novel bioink formulation (ECM/AMP) that combines an ECM-based hydrogel containing 2% octapeptide FEFEFKFK and 98% water with AMP particles to realize high cell function with desirable bioprintability. We analyzed the osteogenic differentiation of dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) encapsulated in the bioink, as well as in vivo bone regeneration, to define the potential of the formulated bioink as a growth factor-free bone-forming strategy. Cell-laden AMP-modified bioprinted constructs showed an improved cell morphology but similar cell viability (∼90%) compared to their AMP-free counterpart. In functional assays, the cell-laden bioprinted constructs modified with AMP exhibited a high level of mineralization and osteogenic gene expression without the use of growth factors, thus suggesting that the presence of AMP-triggered DPSCs' osteogenic differentiation. Cell-free ECM-based bioprinted constructs were implanted in vivo. In comparison with the ECM group, bone volume per total volume for ECM/1.0AMP was approximately 1.7- and 1.4-fold higher at 4 and 8 weeks, respectively. Further, a significant increase in the bone density was observed in ECM/1.0AMP from 4 to 8 weeks. These results demonstrate that the presence of AMP in the bioink significantly increased bone formation, thus showing promise for in situ bioprinting strategies. We foresee significant potential in translating this innovative bioink toward the regeneration of patient-specific bone tissue for regenerative dentistry.
Keywords: amorphous magnesium phosphate; bioink; bioprinting; bone; regeneration.