Transparent and cell-guiding cellulose nanofiber 3D printing bioinks

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

For three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting to fulfill its promise and enable the automated fabrication of complex tissue-mimicking constructs, there is a need for developing bioinks that are not only printable and biocompatible but also have integrated cell-instructive properties. Toward this goal, we here present a scalable technique for generating nanofiber 3D printing inks with unique tissue-guiding capabilities. Our core methodology relies on tailoring the size and dispersibility of cellulose fibrils through a solvent-controlled partial carboxymethylation. This way, we generate partially negatively charged cellulose nanofibers with diameters of ∼250 nm and lengths spanning tens to hundreds of microns. In this range, the fibers structurally match the size and dimensions of natural collagen fibers making them sufficiently large to orient cells. Yet, they are simultaneously sufficiently thin to be optically transparent. By adjusting fiber concentration, 3D printing inks with excellent shear-thinning properties can be established. In addition, as the fibers are readily dispersible, composite inks with both carbohydrates and extracellular matrix (ECM)-derived proteins can easily be generated. We apply such composite inks for 3D printing cell-laden and cross-linkable structures, as well as tissue-guiding gel substrates. Interestingly, we find that the spatial organization of engineered tissues can be defined by the shear-induced alignment of fibers during the printing procedure. Specifically, we show how myotubes derived from human and murine skeletal myoblasts can be programmed into linear and complex nonlinear architectures on soft printed substrates with intermediate fiber contents. Our nanofibrillated cellulose inks can thus serve as a simple and scalable tool for engineering anisotropic human muscle tissues that mimic native structure and function.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)2564-2577
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Extrusion-based bioprinting, Nanofibrillated cellulose, Carboxymethylation, Skeletal muscle, Tissue models

ID: 331573323