Perfusion directed 3D mineral formation within cell-laden hydrogels

Stephen W. Sawyer, Shivkumar Vishnempet Shridhar, Kairui Zhang, Lucas D. Albrecht, Alex B. Filip, Jason A. Horton, Pranav Soman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Despite the promise of stem cell engineering and the new advances in bioprinting technologies, one of the major challenges in the manufacturing of large scale bone tissue scaffolds is the inability to perfuse nutrients throughout thick constructs. Here, we report a scalable method to create thick, perfusable bone constructs using a combination of cell-laden hydrogels and a 3D printed sacrificial polymer. Osteoblast-like Saos-2 cells were encapsulated within a gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) hydrogel and 3D printed polyvinyl alcohol pipes were used to create perfusable channels. A custom-built bioreactor was used to perfuse osteogenic media directly through the channels in order to induce mineral deposition which was subsequently quantified via micro-CT. Histological staining was used to verify mineral deposition around the perfused channels, while COMSOL modeling was used to simulate oxygen diffusion between adjacent channels. This information was used to design a scaled-up construct containing a 3D array of perfusable channels within cell-laden GelMA. Progressive matrix mineralization was observed by cells surrounding perfused channels as opposed to random mineral deposition in static constructs. Micro-CT confirmed that there was a direct relationship between channel mineralization within perfused constructs and time within the bioreactor. Furthermore, the scalable method presented in this work serves as a model on how large-scale bone tissue replacement constructs could be made using commonly available 3D printers, sacrificial materials, and hydrogels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035013
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 28 2018


  • bioreactor
  • cell encapsulation
  • gelatin methacrylate
  • hydrogel
  • mineral formation
  • perfusion
  • tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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