3D Printed Magneto-Active Microfiber Scaffolds for Remote Stimulation and Guided Organization of 3D In Vitro Skeletal Muscle Models

Gerardo Cedillo-Servin, Ouafa Dahri, João Meneses, Joost van Duijn, Harrison Moon, Fanny Sage, Joana Silva, André Pereira, Fernão D. Magalhães, Jos Malda, Niels Geijsen, Artur M. Pinto, Miguel Castilho

Published: 2023

This work reports the rational design and fabrication of magneto-active microfiber meshes with controlled hexagonal microstructures via melt electrowriting (MEW) of a magnetized polycaprolactone-based composite. In situ iron oxide nanoparticle deposition on oxidized graphene yields homogeneously dispersed magnetic particles with sizes above 0.5 µm and low aspect ratio, preventing cellular internalization and toxicity. With these fillers, homogeneous magnetic composites with high magnetic content (up to 20 weight %) are obtained and processed in a solvent-free manner for the first time. MEW of magnetic composites enabled the creation of skeletal muscle-inspired design of hexagonal scaffolds with tunable fiber diameter, reconfigurable modularity, and zonal distribution of magneto-active and nonactive material, with elastic tensile deformability. External magnetic fields below 300 mT are sufficient to trigger out-of-plane reversible deformation. In vitro culture of C2C12 myoblasts on three-dimensional (3D) Matrigel/collagen/MEW scaffolds showed that microfibers guided the formation of 3D myotube architectures, and the presence of magnetic particles does not significantly affect viability or differentiation rates after 8 days. Centimeter-sized skeletal muscle constructs allowed for reversible, continued, and dynamic magneto-mechanical stimulation. Overall, these innovative microfiber scaffolds provide magnetically deformable platforms suitable for dynamic culture of skeletal muscle, offering potential for in vitro disease modeling.

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