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Droplet-based bioprinting enables the fabrication of cell-hydrogel-microfibre composite tissue precursors

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Marcin Kotlarz, Dr Ana Ferreira-DuarteORCiD, Dr Piergiorgio GentileORCiD, Professor Kenneth Dalgarno



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Composites offer an opportunity to couple particular benefits of their constituents to achieve unique material properties that can be of extra value in many tissue engineering applications. Strategies combining hydrogels with fibre-based scaffolds can create more biologically and structurally functional tissue constructs. However, developing efficient and scalable approaches to manufacture such composites is challenging. Here, we use a droplet-based bioprinting system called Reactive Jet Impingement (ReJI) to integrate a cell-laden hydrogel with a microfibrous mesh. The ReJI system uses microvalves connected to different bio-ink reservoirs and directed to continuously jet bio-ink droplets at one another in mid-air, where the droplets react and form a hydrogel that lands on a microfibrous mesh. We produce cell-hydrogel-fibre composites by embedding human dermal fibroblasts at two different concentrations (5 M and 30 M cells/ml, respectively) in a collagen-alginate-fibrin hydrogel matrix and bioprint it onto a fibre-based substrate. Our results show that both types of cell-hydrogel-microfibre composites maintain high cell viability and promote cell-cell and cell-biomaterial interactions. The lower fibroblast density thereby triggers cell proliferation, whereas the higher fibroblast density facilitates faster cellular organisation and infiltration into the microfibres. Additionally, the fibrous component of the composite is characterised by its high swelling properties and quick calcium ions release. The data indicate that the composite constructs we create offer an efficient way to create highly functional tissue precursors for laminar tissue engineering particularly wound healing and skin tissue engineering applications.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kotlarz M, Ferreira AM, Gentile P, Russell SJ, Dalgarno K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Bio-Design and Manufacture

Year: 2022

Volume: 5

Pages: 512-528

Print publication date: 01/07/2022

Online publication date: 04/04/2022

Acceptance date: 13/01/2022

Date deposited: 12/01/2022

ISSN (print): 2096-5524

ISSN (electronic): 2522-8552

Publisher: Springer Nature


DOI: 10.1007/s42242-022-00192-5

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/6dmm-2a40


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Funder referenceFunder name
DePuy International Limited