Bioactive Materials (Oct 2021)

A structure-supporting, self-healing, and high permeating hydrogel bioink for establishment of diverse homogeneous tissue-like constructs

  • Hongqing Chen,
  • Fei Fei,
  • Xinda Li,
  • Zhenguo Nie,
  • Dezhi Zhou,
  • Libiao Liu,
  • Jing Zhang,
  • Haitao Zhang,
  • Zhou Fei,
  • Tao Xu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 10
pp. 3580 – 3595


Read online

The ready-to-use, structure-supporting hydrogel bioink can shorten the time for ink preparation, ensure cell dispersion, and maintain the preset shape/microstructure without additional assistance during printing. Meanwhile, ink with high permeability might facilitate uniform cell growth in biological constructs, which is beneficial to homogeneous tissue repair. Unfortunately, current bioinks are hard to meet these requirements simultaneously in a simple way. Here, based on the fast dynamic crosslinking of aldehyde hyaluronic acid (AHA)/N-carboxymethyl chitosan (CMC) and the slow stable crosslinking of gelatin (GEL)/4-arm poly(ethylene glycol) succinimidyl glutarate (PEG-SG), we present a time-sharing structure-supporting (TSHSP) hydrogel bioink with high permeability, containing 1% AHA, 0.75% CMC, 1% GEL and 0.5% PEG-SG. The TSHSP hydrogel can facilitate printing with proper viscoelastic property and self-healing behavior. By crosslinking with 4% PEG-SG for only 3 min, the integrity of the cell-laden construct can last for 21 days due to the stable internal and external GEL/PEG-SG networks, and cells manifested long-term viability and spreading morphology. Nerve-like, muscle-like, and cartilage-like in vitro constructs exhibited homogeneous cell growth and remarkable biological specificities. This work provides not only a convenient and practical bioink for tissue engineering, targeted cell therapy, but also a new direction for hydrogel bioink development.