Nanoengineered shear-thinning and bioprintable hydrogel as a versatile platform for biomedical applications

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National Institutes of Health

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Research Article

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The development of bioinks based on shear-thinning and self-healing hydrogels has recently attracted significant attention for constructing complex three-dimensional physiological microenvironments. For extrusion-based bioprinting, it is challenging to provide high structural reliability and resolution of printed structures while protecting cells from shear forces during printing. Herein, we present shear-thinning and printable hydrogels based on silicate nanomaterials, laponite (LA), and glycosaminoglycan nanoparticles (GAGNPs) for bioprinting applications. Nanocomposite hydrogels (GLgels) were rapidly formed within seconds due to the interactions between the negatively charged groups of GAGNPs and the edges of LA. The shear-thinning behavior of the hydrogel protected encapsulated cells from aggressive shear stresses during bioprinting. The bioinks could be printed straightforwardly into shape-persistent and free-standing structures with high aspect ratios. Rheological studies demonstrated fast recovery of GLgels over multiple strain cycles. In vitro studies confirmed the ability of GLgels to support cell growth, proliferation, and spreading. In vitro osteogenic differentiation of pre-osteoblasts murine bone marrow stromal cells encapsulated inside the GLgels was also demonstrated through evaluation of ALP activity and calcium deposition. The subcutaneous implantation of the GLgel in rats confirmed its in vivo biocompatibility and biodegradability. The engineered shear-thinning hydrogel with osteoinductive characteristics can be used as a new bioink for 3D printing of constructs for bone tissue engineering applications.

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