Evaluation of Photocrosslinked Lutrol Hydrogel for Tissue Printing Applications

Application of hydrogels in tissue engineering and innovative strategies such as organ printing, which is based on layered 3D deposition of cell-laden hydrogels, requires design of novel hydrogel matrices. Hydrogel demands for 3D printing include: 1) preservation of the printed shape after the deposition; 2) maintaining cell viability and cell function and 3) easy handling of the printed construct. In this study we analyze the applicability of a novel, photosensitive hydrogel (Lutrol) for printing of 3D structured bone grafts. We benefit from the fast temperature-responsive gelation ability of thermosensitive Lutrol-F127, ensuring organized 3D extrusion, and the additional stability provided by covalent photocrosslinking allows handling of the printed scaffolds. We studied the cytotoxicity of the hydrogel and osteogenic differentiation of embedded osteogenic progenitor cells. After photopolymerization of the modified Lutrol hydrogel, cells remain viable for up to three weeks and retain the ability to differentiate. Encapsulation of cells does not compromise the mechanical properties of the formed gels and multilayered porous Lutrol structures were successfully printed.