Biofabrication of osteochondral tissue equivalents by printing topologically defined, cell-laden hydrogel scaffolds

Natalja E. Fedorovich, Wouter Schuurman, Hans M. Wijnberg, Henk Jan Prins, P. René Van Weeren, Jos Malda, Jacqueline Alblas*, Wouter J.A. Dhert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Osteochondral defects are prone to induce osteoarthritic degenerative changes. Many tissue-engineering approaches that aim to generate osteochondral implants suffer from poor tissue formation and compromised integration. This illustrates the need for further improvement of heterogeneous tissue constructs. Engineering of these structures is expected to profit from strategies addressing the complexity of tissue organization and the simultaneous use of multiple cell types. Moreover, this enables the investigation of the effects of three-dimensional (3D) organization and architecture on tissue function. In the present study, we characterize the use of a 3D fiber deposition (3DF) technique for the fabrication of cell-laden, heterogeneous hydrogel constructs for potential use as osteochondral grafts. Changing fiber spacing or angle of fiber deposition yielded scaffolds of varying porosity and elastic modulus. We encapsulated and printed fluorescently labeled human chondrocytes and osteogenic progenitors in alginate hydrogel yielding scaffolds of 1×2cm with different parts for both cell types. Cell viability remained high throughout the printing process, and cells remained in their compartment of the printed scaffold for the whole culture period. Moreover, distinctive tissue formation was observed, both in vitro after 3 weeks and in vivo (6 weeks subcutaneously in immunodeficient mice), at different locations within one construct. These results demonstrate the possibility of manufacturing viable centimeter-scaled structured tissues by the 3DF technique, which could potentially be used for the repair of osteochondral defects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalTissue Engineering - Part C: Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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