A Stimuli-Responsive Nanocomposite for 3D Anisotropic Cell-Guidance and Magnetic Soft Robotics

Riccardo Tognato, Angela R. Armiento, Valentina Bonfrate, Riccardo Levato, Jos Malda, Mauro Alini, David Eglin, Gabriele Giancane, Tiziano Serra

Published: 28/02/2019


Stimuli‐responsive materials have the potential to enable the generation of new bioinspired devices with unique physicochemical properties and cell‐instructive ability. Enhancing biocompatibility while simplifying the production methodologies, as well as enabling the creation of complex constructs, i.e., via 3D (bio)printing technologies, remains key challenge in the field. Here, a novel method is presented to biofabricate cellularized anisotropic hybrid hydrogel through a mild and biocompatible process driven by multiple external stimuli: magnetic field, temperature, and light. A low‐intensity magnetic field is used to align mosaic iron oxide nanoparticles (IOPs) into filaments with tunable size within a gelatin methacryloyl matrix. Cells seeded on top or embedded within the hydrogel align to the same axes of the IOPs filaments. Furthermore, in 3D, C2C12 skeletal myoblasts differentiate toward myotubes even in the absence of differentiation media. 3D printing of the nanocomposite hydrogel is achieved and creation of complex heterogeneous structures that respond to magnetic field is demonstrated. By combining the advanced, stimuli‐responsive hydrogel with the architectural control provided by bioprinting technologies, 3D constructs can also be created that, although inspired by nature, express functionalities beyond those of native tissue, which have important application in soft robotics, bioactuators, and bionic devices.

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