3D-printable plant protein-enriched scaffolds for cultivated meat development

Biomaterials 2022 Volume 284, Article 121487

Cultivated meat harnesses tissue engineering (TE) concepts to create sustainable, edible muscle tissues, for addressing the rising meat product demands and their global consequences. As 3D-printing is a promising method for creating thick and complex structures, two plant-protein-enriched scaffolding compositions were primarily assessed in our work as 3D-printable platforms for bovine satellite cells (BSC) maturation. Mixtures of pea protein isolate (PPI) and soy protein isolate (SPI) with RGD-modified alginate (Alginate(RGD)) were evaluated as prefabricated mold-based and 3D-printed scaffolds for BSC cultivation, and ultimately, as potential bioinks for cellular printing. Mold-based protein enriched scaffolds exhibited elevated stability and stiffness compared to ones made of Alginate(RGD) alone, while allowing unhindered BSC spreading and maturation. Extrusion based 3D-printing with the two compositions was then developed, while using an edible, removable agar support bath. Successfully fabricated constructs with well-defined geometries supported BSC attachment and differentiation. Finally, cellular bioprinting was demonstrated with PPI-enriched bioinks. Cell recovery post-printing was observed in two cultivation configurations, reaching ∼80–90% viability over time. Moreover, cells could mature within 3D-printed cellular constructs. As animal-derived materials were avoided in our scaffold fabrication process, and pea-protein is known for its low allergic risk, these findings have great promise for further cultivated meat research.