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Improved in situ seeding of 3D printed scaffolds using cell-releasing hydrogels

Whitely, Michael, Cereceres, Stacy, Dhavalikar, Prachi, Salhadar, Karim, Wilems, Thomas, Smith, Brandon, Mikos, Antonios, Cosgriff-Hernandez, Elizabeth
Biomaterials 2018 v.185 pp. 194-204
biodegradability, bone formation, cell viability, emulsions, geometry, humans, hydrogels, mechanical properties, mesenchymal stromal cells, polyethylene glycol, polymerization, tissue engineering
The design of tissue engineered scaffolds based on polymerized high internal phase emulsions (polyHIPEs) has emerged as a promising bone grafting strategy. We previously reported the ability to 3D print emulsion inks to better mimic the structure and mechanical properties of native bone while precisely matching defect geometry. In the current study, redox-initiated hydrogel carriers were investigated for in situ delivery of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) utilizing the biodegradable macromer, poly(ethylene glycol)-dithiothreitol. Hydrogel carrier properties including network formation time, sol-gel fraction, and swelling ratio were modulated to achieve rapid cure without external stimuli and a target cell-release period of 5–7 days. These in situ carriers enabled improved distribution of hMSCs in 3D printed polyHIPE grafts over standard suspension seeding. Additionally, carrier-loaded polyHIPEs supported sustained cell viability and osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs post-release. In summary, these findings demonstrate the potential of this in situ curing hydrogel carrier to enhance the cell distribution and retention of hMSCs in bone grafts. Although initially focused on improving bone regeneration, the ability to encapsulate cells in a hydrogel carrier without relying on external stimuli that can be attenuated in large grafts or tissues is expected to have a wide range of applications in tissue engineering.