Decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) is used extensively in regenerative medicine, cancer research and drug delivery. Having been stripped of its cellular components, dECM is a useful scaffold structure to enable cells to develop into tissues. It’s unique ability to mimic the native microenvironment also makes it useful for post-trauma and post-surgery tissue healing.

In a recent article published in JOURNAL, Dr. Claire Yu from the University of California San Diego reports on her success with bioprinting dECM structures while working as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Prof. Shaochen Chen. She made good use of the CellScale MicroTester to evaluate mechanical properties.

“Here, we describe a method to produce photocrosslinkable tissue-specific decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM) bioinks to create patient-specific tissues possessing complex microarchitecture and tunable mechanical properties using a digital light processing (DLP)-based 3D bioprinter. We showed that tissue-matched dECM bioinks provided a favorable microenvironment for maintaining high cell viability and maturation of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and hepatocytes. Furthermore, microscale patterning also guided spontaneous cellular reorganization into engineered striated heart and lobular liver structures. This technique enables a light-based approach to rapidly bioprint dECM bioinks with tissue-scale precision to fabricate physiologically-relevant tissues.

 The CellScale MicroTester played an important role in our study to enable accurate measurement of the compressive Young’s modulus of our soft dECM hydrogels. By doing so, we were able to optimize our printing parameters to tune the modulus of our dECM constructs as a function of printing exposure time and readily achieve a range of stiffnesses that falls within the spectrum of normal liver (<6 kPa) and temporal values of the developing heart (2–9 kPa) for the liver and heart tissues, respectively. “  

 –       Dr Claire Yu, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, San Diego 

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