Iterative feedback bio-printingderived cell-laden hydrogel scaffolds with optimal geometrical fidelity and cellular controllability
For three-dimensional bio-printed cell-laden hydrogel tissue constructs, the well-designed internal porous geometry is tailored to obtain the desired structural and cellular properties. However, significant differences often exist between the designed and as-printed scaffolds because of the inherent characteristics of hydrogels and cells. In this study, an iterative feedback bio-printing (IFBP) approach based on optical coherence tomography (OCT) for the fabrication of cell-laden hydrogel scaffolds with optimal geometrical fidelity and cellular controllability was proposed. A custom-made swept-source OCT (SS-OCT) system was applied to characterize the printed scaffolds quantitatively. Based on the obtained empirical linear formula from the first experimental feedback loop, we defined the most appropriate design constraints and optimized the printing process to improve the geometrical fidelity. The effectiveness of IFBP was verified from the second run using gelatin/alginate hydrogel scaffolds laden with C3A cells. The mismatch of the morphological parameters greatly decreased from 40% to within 7%, which significantly optimized the cell viability, proliferation, and morphology, as well as the representative expression of hepatocyte markers, including CYP3A4 and albumin, of the printed cell-laden hydrogel scaffolds. The demonstrated protocol paves the way for the mass fabrication of cell-laden hydrogel scaffolds, engineered tissues, and scaled-up applications of the 3D bio-printing technique.