Tissue engineering. Part A

Scaffold porosity and oxygenation of printed hydrogel constructs affect functionality of embedded osteogenic progenitors.

PMID 21599540


Insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients throughout the graft is considered one of the principal limitations in development of large, tissue-engineered bone grafts. Organ or tissue printing by means of three-dimensional (3D) fiber deposition is a novel modality in regenerative medicine that combines pore formation and defined cell placement, and is used here for development of cell-laden hydrogel structures with reproducible internal architecture to sustain oxygen supply and to support adequate tissue development. In this study we tested the effect of porosity on multipotent stromal cells (MSCs) embedded in hydrogel constructs printed with a 3D fiber deposition (3DF) machine. For this, porous and solid alginate hydrogel scaffolds, with MSCs homogeneously dispersed throughout the construct, were printed and analyzed in vitro for the presence of hypoxia markers, metabolism, survival, and osteogenic differentiation. We demonstrated that porosity promotes oxygenation of MSCs in printed hydrogel scaffolds and supported the viability and osteogenic differentiation of embedded cells. Porous and solid printed constructs were subsequently implanted subcutaneously in immunodeficient mice to analyze tissue formation in relation to hypoxia responses of embedded cells. Implantation of printed grafts resulted in ingrowth of vascularized tissue and significantly enhanced oxygenation of embedded MSCs. In conclusion, the introduction of pores significantly enhances the conductive properties of printed hydrogel constructs and contributes to the functionality of embedded osteogenic progenitors.