A modular hydrogel bioink containing microsphere-embedded chondrocytes for 3D-printed multiscale composite scaffolds for cartilage repair
Articular cartilage tissue engineering is being considered an alternative treatment strategy for promoting cartilage damage repair. Herein, we proposed a modular hydrogel-based bioink containing microsphere-embedded chondrocytes for 3D printing multiscale scaffolds integrating the micro and macro environment of the native articular cartilage. Gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA)/alginate microsphere was prepared by a microfluidic approach, and the chondrocytes embedded in the microspheres remained viable after being frozen and resuscitated. The modular hydrogel bioink could be printed via the gel-in-gel 3D bioprinting strategy for fabricating the multiscale hydrogel-based scaffolds. Meanwhile, the cells cultured in the scaffolds showed good proliferation and differentiation. Furthermore, we also found that the composite hydrogel was biocompatible in vivo. These results indicated that the modular hydrogel-based bioinks containing microsphere-embedded chondrocytes for 3D printing multiscale scaffolds could provide a 3D multiscale environment for enhancing cartilage repairing, which would be encouraging considering the numerous alternative applications in articular cartilage tissue engineering.