3D bioprinting of mechanically tuned bioinks derived from cardiac decellularized extracellular matrix

Yu Jung Shin, Ryan T. Shafranek, Jonathan H. Tsui, Jelisha Walcott, Alshakim Nelson, Deok Ho Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


3D bioprinting is a powerful technique for engineering tissues used to study cell behavior and tissue properties in vitro. With the right formulation and printing parameters, bioinks can provide native biological and mechanical cues while allowing for versatile 3D structures that recapitulate tissue-level organization. Bio-based materials that support cellular adhesion, differentiation, and proliferation - including gelatin, collagen, hyaluronic acid, and alginate - have been successfully used as bioinks. In particular, decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) has become a promising material with the unique ability to maintain both biochemical and topographical micro-environments of native tissues. However, dECM has shown technical limitations for 3D printing (3DP) applications posed by its intrinsically low mechanical stability. Herein, we report hydrogel bioinks composed of partially digested, porcine cardiac decellularized extracellular matrix (cdECM), Laponite-XLG nanoclay, and poly(ethylene glycol)-diacrylate (PEG-DA). The Laponite facilitated extrusion-based 3DP, while PEG-DA enabled photo-polymerization after printing. Improving upon previously reported bioinks derived from dECM, our bioinks combine extrudability, shape fidelity, rapid cross-linking, and cytocompatibility in a single formulation (> 97% viability of encapsulated human cardiac fibroblasts and > 94% viability of human induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes after 7 days). The compressive modulus of the cured hydrogel bioinks was tunable from 13.4-89 kPa by changing the concentration of PEG-DA in the bioink formulation. Importantly, this span of mechanical stiffness encompasses ranges of tissue stiffness from healthy (compressive modulus ~5-15 kPa) to fibrotic (compressive modulus ~30-100 kPa) cardiac tissue states. The printed constructs demonstrated shape fidelity, adaptability to different printing conditions, and high cell viability following extrusion and photo-polymerization, highlighting the potential for applications in modeling both healthy and fibrotic cardiac tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • 3D bioprinting
  • Bioinks
  • Cardiac tissue engineering
  • Decellularized extracellular matrix
  • Direct-ink writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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