Recycled algae-based carbon materials as electroconductive 3D printed skeletal muscle tissue engineering scaffolds

Skeletal muscle is an electrically and mechanically active tissue that contains highly oriented, densely packed myofibrils. The tissue has self-regeneration capacity upon injury, which is limited in the cases of volumetric muscle loss. Several regenerative therapies have been developed in order to enhance this capacity, as well as to structurally and mechanically support the defect site during regeneration. Among them, biomimetic approaches that recapitulate the native microenvironment of the tissue in terms of parallel-aligned structure and biophysical signals were shown to be effective. In this study, we have developed 3D printed aligned and electrically active scaffolds in which the electrical conductivity was provided by carbonaceous material (CM) derived from algae-based biomass. The synthesis of this conductive and functional CM consisted of eco-friendly synthesis procedure such as pre-carbonization and multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) catalysis. CM obtained from biomass via hydrothermal carbonization (CM-03) and its ash form (CM-03K) were doped within poly(ɛ-caprolactone) (PCL) matrix and 3D printed to form scaffolds with aligned fibers for structural biomimicry. Scaffolds were seeded with C2C12 mouse myoblasts and subjected to electrical stimulation during the in vitro culture. Enhanced myotube formation was observed in electroactive groups compared to their non-conductive counterparts and it was observed that myotube formation and myotube maturity were significantly increased for CM-03 group after electrical stimulation. The results have therefore showed that the CM obtained from macroalgae biomass is a promising novel source for the production of the electrically conductive scaffolds for skeletal muscle tissue engineering.