Vascularization of bioprinted constructs to ensure sufficient nutrient supply still remains to be a significant task in the tissue engineering community. In order to mimic functional tissue, it is necessary to be able to print vessels in various size scales, which places particularly high demands on the 3D printing technology and materials. In this preliminary study, we focused on the production of small hollow structures for the application in small functional units of living tissue. To fabricate hollow structures, the freeform reversible embedding of suspended hydrogels (FRESH) - method was utilized (Hinton et al.). A sodium alginate solution (5 % w/v) was used as a bioink. The scaffolds were fabricated with the Allevi 1 (Allevi Inc., PA, USA), a pneumatic extrusion-based bioprinter and plotted into a gelatine slurry serving as fugitive support. For first cell experiments, the bioink was loaded with immortalized mouse HL1-cells. A proof of concept could be shown since we were able to reliably create vessel-like structures with an inside diameter of 1.2 to 1.6 mm, a length of up to 8 mm and a wall thickness of 0.4 to 0.6 mm. In this study, the geometric requirements to print hollow structures for small functional tissues could be achieved. To expand the field of applications the resolution of the printing process has to be further improved. Moreover, the cell density should be increased to reach physiological cell numbers and extended with endothelial cells.
© 2020 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston
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