Genetically-programmed, mesenchymal stromal cell-laden & mechanically strong 3D bioprinted scaffolds for bone repair

Hosam Al-Deen Abu Awwad, Lalitha Thiagarajan, Janos Kanczler, Mahateb Amer, Gordon Bruce, Stuart Lanham, Robin Mark Howard Rumney, Richard Oreffo, James Dixon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Additive manufacturing processes used to create regenerative bone tissue engineered implants are not biocompatible, thereby restricting direct use with stem cells and usually require cell seeding post-fabrication. Combined delivery of stem cells with the controlled release of osteogenic factors, within a mechanically-strong biomaterial combined during manufacturing would replace injectable defect fillers (cements) and allow personalized implants to be rapidly prototyped by 3D bioprinting.

Through the use of direct genetic programming via the sustained release of an exogenously delivered transcription factor RUNX2 (delivered as recombinant GET-RUNX2 protein) encapsulated in PLGA microparticles (MPs), we demonstrate that human mesenchymal stromal (stem) cells (hMSCs) can be directly fabricated into a thermo-sintered 3D bioprintable material and achieve effective osteogenic differentiation. Importantly we observed osteogenic programming of gene expression by released GET-RUNX2 (8.2-, 3.3- and 3.9-fold increases in OSX, RUNX2 and OPN expression, respectively) and calcification (von Kossa staining) in our scaffolds. The developed biodegradable PLGA/PEG paste formulation augments high-density bone development in a defect model (~2.4-fold increase in high density bone volume) and can be used to rapidly prototype clinically-sized hMSC-laden implants within minutes using mild, cytocompatible extrusion bioprinting.

The ability to create mechanically strong cancellous ‘bone-like’ printable implants for tissue repair that contain stem cells and controlled-release of programming factors is innovative, and will facilitate the development of novel localized delivery approaches to direct cellular behaviour for many regenerative medicine applications including those for personalized bone repair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-346
JournalJournal of Controlled Release: Official Journal of the Controlled Release Society
Early online date3 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2020


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