Gelatin-Methacryloyl (GelMA) Hydrogels with Defined Degree of Functionalization as a Versatile Toolkit for 3D Cell Culture and Extrusion Bioprinting.

Research paper by Iliyana I Pepelanova, Katharina K Kruppa, Thomas T Scheper, Antonina A Lavrentieva

Indexed on: 20 Jul '18Published on: 20 Jul '18Published in: Bioengineering


Gelatin-methacryloyl (GelMA) is a semi-synthetic hydrogel which consists of gelatin derivatized with methacrylamide and methacrylate groups. These hydrogels provide cells with an optimal biological environment (e.g., RGD motifs for adhesion) and can be quickly photo-crosslinked, which provides shape fidelity and stability at physiological temperature. In the present work, we demonstrated how GelMA hydrogels can be synthesized with a specific degree of functionalization (DoF) and adjusted to the intended application as a three-dimensional (3D) cell culture platform. The focus of this work lays on producing hydrogel scaffolds which provide a cell promoting microenvironment for human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hAD-MSCs) and are conductive to their adhesion, spreading, and proliferation. The control of mechanical GelMA properties by variation of concentration, DoF, and ultraviolet (UV) polymerization conditions is described. Moreover, hAD-MSC cell viability and morphology in GelMA of different stiffness was evaluated and compared. Polymerized hydrogels with and without cells could be digested in order to release encapsulated cells without loss of viability. We also demonstrated how hydrogel viscosity can be increased by the use of biocompatible additives, in order to enable the extrusion bioprinting of these materials. Taken together, we demonstrated how GelMA hydrogels can be used as a versatile tool for 3D cell cultivation.