Cell-based regenerative constructs provide hope for the restoration of tissue function in compromised biological conditions such as complex bone defects. A strategy mimicking the cascade of events of postnatal fracture healing suggests an implant design where progenitor cells provide the driving force for the construct’s tissue forming capacity, while framing biomaterials provide cells with 3D cues to direct cellular processes. Large bone defects mainly heal through the formation of an intermediate endochondral fracture callus. The authors aimed to develop an in vitro engineered fracture callus manufactured by bioprinting to provide a spatially organized tissue construct based on: i) in vitro 3D primed human periosteum derived cells and ii) biocompatible thiol-ene alginate hydrogels, mimicking the cells and extracellular matrix present in the different zones of the callus. Cell viability and maintained osteochondrogenic differentiation upon bioprinting is confirmed in vitro. In vivo assessment displays that the developed biomaterials provided essential 3D cues that further guided the cells in their tissue forming process in the absence of additional stimulatory molecules. The reported findings confirm the appeal of a biomimetic approach to steer tissue development of in vitro engineered constructs and illustrate the suitability of bioprinting methodologies for the fabrication of living regenerative implants.
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