Current treatments for neurodegenerative diseases aim to alleviate the symptoms experienced by patients; however, these treatments do not cure the disease nor prevent further degeneration. Improvements in current disease-modeling and drug-development practices could accelerate effective treatments for neurological diseases. To that end, 3D bioprinting has gained significant attention for engineering tissues in a rapid and reproducible fashion. Additionally, using patient-derived stem cells, which can be reprogrammed to neural-like cells, could generate personalized neural tissues. Here, adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were bioprinted using a fibrin-based bioink and the microfluidic RX1 bioprinter. These tissues were cultured for 12 days in the presence of SB431542 (SB), LDN-193189 (LDN), purmorphamine (puro), fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8), fibroblast growth factor-basic (bFGF), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to induce differentiation to dopaminergic neurons (DN). The constructs were analyzed for expression of neural markers, dopamine release, and electrophysiological activity. The cells expressed DN-specific and early neuronal markers (tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and class III beta-tubulin (TUJ1), respectively) after 12 days of differentiation. Additionally, the tissues exhibited immature electrical signaling after treatment with potassium chloride (KCl). Overall, this work shows the potential of bioprinting engineered neural tissues from patient-derived MSCs, which could serve as an important tool for personalized disease models and drug-screening.
Keywords: 3D bioprinting; fibrin; neural tissues; small molecules; stem cells.