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Keywords:

  • bioprinting;
  • regenerative medicine;
  • tissue engineering;
  • hydrogels;
  • biohybrid devices

Abstract

Regenerative medicine seeks to repair or replace dysfunctional tissues with engineered biological or biohybrid systems. Current clinical regenerative models utilize simple uniform tissue constructs formed with cells cultured onto biocompatible scaffolds. Future regenerative therapies will require the fabrication of complex three-dimensional constructs containing multiple cell types and extracellular matrices. We believe bioprinting technologies will provide a key role in the design and construction of future engineered tissues for cell-based and regenerative therapies. This review describes the current state-of-the-art bioprinting technologies, focusing on direct-write bioprinting. We describe a number of process and device considerations for successful bioprinting of composite biohybrid constructs. In addition, we have provided baseline direct-write printing parameters for a hydrogel system (Pluronic F127) often used in cardiovascular applications. Direct-write dispensed lines (gels with viscosities ranging from 30 mPa s to greater than 600 × 106 mPa s) were measured following mechanical and pneumatic printing via three commercially available needle sizes (20 ga, 25 ga, and 30 ga). Example patterns containing microvascular cells and isolated microvessel fragments were also bioprinted into composite 3D structures. Cells and vessel fragments remained viable and maintained in vitro behavior after incorporation into biohybrid structures. Direct-write bioprinting of biologicals provides a unique method to design and fabricate complex, multicomponent 3D structures for experimental use. We hope our design insights and baseline parameter descriptions of direct-write bioprinting will provide a useful foundation for colleagues to incorporate this 3D fabrication method into future regenerative therapies. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater, 2011.