3D Bioprinting of Human Tissues: Biofabrication, Bioinks, and Bioreactors

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 12;22(8):3971. doi: 10.3390/ijms22083971.


The field of tissue engineering has progressed tremendously over the past few decades in its ability to fabricate functional tissue substitutes for regenerative medicine and pharmaceutical research. Conventional scaffold-based approaches are limited in their capacity to produce constructs with the functionality and complexity of native tissue. Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting offers exciting prospects for scaffolds fabrication, as it allows precise placement of cells, biochemical factors, and biomaterials in a layer-by-layer process. Compared with traditional scaffold fabrication approaches, 3D bioprinting is better to mimic the complex microstructures of biological tissues and accurately control the distribution of cells. Here, we describe recent technological advances in bio-fabrication focusing on 3D bioprinting processes for tissue engineering from data processing to bioprinting, mainly inkjet, laser, and extrusion-based technique. We then review the associated bioink formulation for 3D bioprinting of human tissues, including biomaterials, cells, and growth factors selection. The key bioink properties for successful bioprinting of human tissue were summarized. After bioprinting, the cells are generally devoid of any exposure to fluid mechanical cues, such as fluid shear stress, tension, and compression, which are crucial for tissue development and function in health and disease. The bioreactor can serve as a simulator to aid in the development of engineering human tissues from in vitro maturation of 3D cell-laden scaffolds. We then describe some of the most common bioreactors found in the engineering of several functional tissues, such as bone, cartilage, and cardiovascular applications. In the end, we conclude with a brief insight into present limitations and future developments on the application of 3D bioprinting and bioreactor systems for engineering human tissue.

Keywords: 3D bioprinting; bioink; bioreactor; tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks / trends
  • Bioprinting / trends*
  • Bioreactors
  • Humans
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional / trends*
  • Regenerative Medicine / trends*
  • Tissue Engineering / trends*
  • Tissue Scaffolds