Stefan Zimmermann, Kevin Tröndle, Julian Riba, Leo Benning, Ludwig Gutzweiler, Günter Finkenzeller, Peter Koltay, Roland Zengerle, G. Björn Stark
In tissue engineering applications, vascularization can be accomplished by co-implantation of tissue forming cells and endothelial cells (ECs), whereby the latter are able to form functional blood vessels. The use of three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting technologies has the potential to improve the classical tissue engineering approach because these will allow the generation of scaffolds with high spatial control of endothelial cell allocation. This study focuses on a side by side comparisons of popular commercially available bioprinting hydrogels (matrigel, fibrin, collagen, gelatin, agarose, Pluronic F-127, alginate and alginate/gelatin) in the context of their physicochemical parameters, their swelling/degradation characteristics, their biological effects on vasculogenesis-related EC parameters and their printability. The aim of this study was to identify the most suitable hydrogel or hydrogel combination for inkjet printing of ECs to build pre-vascularized tissue constructs. Most tested hydrogels displayed physicochemical characteristics suitable for inkjet printing. However, Pluronic F-127 and the alginate/gelatin blend were rapidly degraded when incubated in cell culture medium. Agarose, Pluronic F-127, alginate and alginate/gelatin hydrogels turned out to be unsuitable for bioprinting of ECs because of their non-adherent properties and/or their incapability to support EC proliferation. Gelatin was able to support EC proliferation and viability but was unable to support endothelial cell sprouting. Our experiments revealed fibrin and collagen to be most suitable for bioprinting of ECs, because these hydrogels showed acceptable swelling/degradation characteristics, supported vasculogenesis-related EC parameters and showed good printability. Moreover, ECs in constructs of preformed spheroids survived the printing process and formed capillary-like cords. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.