Efficient dual crosslinking of protein–in–polysaccharide bioink for biofabrication of cardiac tissue constructs

Biomaterials Advances 2023 Volume 152,Article 213486

Myocardial infarction (MI) is a lethal cardiac disease that causes most of the mortality across the world. MI is a consequence of plaque in the arterial walls of heart, which eventually result in occlusion and ischemia to the myocardial tissues due to inadequate nutrient and oxygen supply. As an efficient alternative to the existing treatment strategies for MI, 3D bioprinting has evolved as an advanced tissue fabrication technique where the cell–laden bioinks are printed layer–by–layer to create functional cardiac patches. In this study, a dual crosslinking strategy has been utilized towards 3D bioprinting of myocardial constructs by using a combination of alginate and fibrinogen. Herein, pre-crosslinking of the physically blended alginate–fibrinogen bioinks with CaCl2 enhanced the shape fidelity and printability of the printed structures. Physicochemical properties of the bioinks such as rheology, fibrin distribution, swelling ratio and degradation behaviour, were determined post-printing for only ionically crosslinked & dual crosslinked constructs and found to be ideal for bioprinting of cardiac constructs. Human ventricular cardiomyocytes (AC 16) exhibited a significant increase in cell proliferation on day 7 and 14 in AF–DMEM–20 mM CaCl2 bioink when compared to A–DMEM–20 mM CaCl2 (p < 0.05). Furthermore, myocardial patches containing neonatal ventricular rat myocytes (NVRM) showed >80 % viability and also expressed sarcomeric alpha actinin & connexin 43. These results indicate that the dual crosslinking strategy was cytocompatible and also possess the potential to be used for biofabrication of thick myocardial constructs for regenerative medicine applications.