BIOFABRICATION, vol.9, no.3, 2017 (SCI-Expanded)
Bioprinting can be defined as 3D patterning of living cells and other biologics by filling and assembling them using a computer-aided layer-by-layer deposition approach to fabricate living tissue and organ analogs for tissue engineering. The presence of cells within the ink to use a 'bio-ink' presents the potential to print 3D structures that can be implanted or printed into damaged/diseased bone tissue to promote highly controlled cell-based regeneration and remineralization of bone. In this study, it was shown for the first time that chitosan solution and its composite with nanostructured bone-like hydroxyapatite (HA) can be mixed with cells and printed successfully. MC3T3-E1 pre-osteoblast cell laden chitosan and chitosan-HA hydrogels, which were printed with the use of an extruder-based bioprinter, were characterized by comparing these hydrogels to alginate and alginate-HA hydrogels. Rheological analysis showed that all groups had viscoelastic properties. It was also shown that under simulated physiological conditions, chitosan and chitosan-HA hydrogels were stable. Also, the viscosity values of the bio-solutions were in an applicable range to be used in 3D bio-printers. Cell viability and proliferation analyses documented that after printing with bio-solutions, cells continued to be viable in all groups. It was observed that cells printed within chitosan-HA composite hydrogel had peak expression levels for early and late stages osteogenic markers. It was concluded that cells within chitosan and chitosan-HA hydrogels had mineralized and differentiated osteogenically after 21 days of culture. It was also discovered that chitosan is superior to alginate, which is the most widely used solution preferred in bioprinting systems, in terms of cell proliferation and differentiation. Thus, applicability and printability of chitosan as a bio-printing solution were clearly demonstrated. Furthermore, it was proven that the presence of bone-like nanostructuredHAin alginate and chitosan hydrogels improved cell viability, proliferation and osteogenic differentiation.