Bioprinting of a Zonal-Specific Cell Density Scaffold: A Biomimetic Approach for Cartilage Tissue Engineering

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Abstract

The treatment of articular cartilage defects remains a significant clinical challenge. This is partially due to current tissue engineering strategies failing to recapitulate native organization. Articular cartilage is a graded tissue with three layers exhibiting different cell densities: the superficial zone having the highest density and the deep zone having the lowest density. However, the introduction of cell gradients for cartilage tissue engineering, which could promote a more biomimetic environment, has not been widely explored. Here, we aimed to bioprint a scaffold with different zonal cell densities to mimic the organization of articular cartilage. The scaffold was bioprinted using an alginate-based bioink containing human articular chondrocytes. The scaffold design included three cell densities, one per zone: 20 × 106 (superficial), 10 × 106 (middle), and 5 × 106 (deep) cells/mL. The scaffold was cultured in a chondrogenic medium for 25 days and analyzed by live/dead assay and histology. The live/dead analysis showed the ability to generate a zonal cell density with high viability. Histological analysis revealed a smooth transition between the zones in terms of cell distribution and a higher sulphated glycosaminoglycan deposition in the highest cell density zone. These findings pave the way toward bioprinting complex zonal cartilage scaffolds as single units, thereby advancing the translation of cartilage tissue engineering into clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7821
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Sciences
Volume11
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • bioprinting
  • biofabrication
  • tissue engineering
  • articular cartilage
  • human chondrocytes
  • cell density
  • cell gradient

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