Reconstruction of segmental bone defects by autologous bone grafting is still the standard of care but presents challenges including anatomical availability and potential donor site morbidity. The process of 3D bioprinting, the application of 3D printing for direct fabrication of living tissue, opens new possibilities for highly personalized tissue implants, making it an appealing alternative to autologous bone grafts. One of the most crucial hurdles for the clinical application of 3D bioprinting is the choice of a suitable cell source, which should be minimally invasive, with high osteogenic potential, with fast, easy expansion. In this study, mesenchymal progenitor cells were isolated from clinically relevant human bone biopsy sites (explant cultures from alveolar bone, iliac crest and fibula; bone marrow aspirates; and periosteal bone shaving from the mastoid) and 3D bioprinted using projection-based stereolithography. Printed constructs were cultivated for 28 days and analyzed regarding their osteogenic potential by assessing viability, mineralization, and gene expression. While viability levels of all cell sources were comparable over the course of the cultivation, cells obtained by periosteal bone shaving showed higher mineralization of the print matrix, with gene expression data suggesting advanced osteogenic differentiation. These results indicate that periosteum-derived cells represent a highly promising cell source for translational bioprinting of bone tissue given their superior osteogenic potential as well as their minimally invasive obtainability.
Keywords: biomaterial; bioprinting; gelatin methacrylate; mesenchymal progenitor cell; osteogenic differentiation; regenerative medicine; segmental bone defect; stereolithography; tissue engineering.