Bioprinting via a dual-gel bioink based on poly(Vinyl alcohol) and solubilized extracellular matrix towards cartilage engineering

Mohsen Setayeshmehr, Shahzad Hafeez, Clemens van Blitterswijk, Lorenzo Moroni, Carlos Mota, and Matthew B. Baker

Published: 2 April 2021


Various hydrogel systems have been developed as biomaterial inks for bioprinting, including natural and synthetic polymers. However, the available biomaterial inks, which allow printability, cell viability, and user-defined customization, remains limited. Incorporation of biological extracellular matrix materials into tunable synthetic polymers can merge the benefits of both systems towards versatile materials for biofabrication. The aim of this study was to develop novel, cell compatible dual-component biomaterial inks and bioinks based on poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and solubilized decellularized cartilage matrix (SDCM) hydrogels that can be utilized for cartilage bioprinting. In a first approach, PVA was modified with amine groups (PVA-A), and mixed with SDCM. The printability of the PVA-A/SDCM formulations cross-linked by genipin was evaluated. On the second approach, the PVA was functionalized with cis-5-norbornene-endo-2,3-dicarboxylic anhydride (PVA-Nb) to allow an ultrafast light-curing thiol-ene cross-linking. Comprehensive experiments were conducted to evaluate the influence of the SDCM ratio in mechanical properties, water uptake, swelling, cell viability, and printability of the PVA-based formulations. The studies performed with the PVA-A/SDCM formulations cross-linked by genipin showed printability, but poor shape retention due to slow cross-linking kinetics. On the other hand, the PVA-Nb/SDCM showed good printability. The results showed that incorporation of SDCM into PVA-Nb reduces the compression modulus, enhance cell viability, and bioprintability and modulate the swelling ratio of the resulted hydrogels. Results indicated that PVA-Nb hydrogels containing SDCM could be considered as versatile bioinks for cartilage bioprinting.

Full Access Link: International Journal of Molecular Sciences