Bioprinted gelatin hydrogel platform promotes smooth muscle cell contractile phenotype maintenance

  • Ajay Tijore
  • Jean-Marc Behr
  • Scott Alexander IrvineEmail author
  • Vrushali Baisane
  • Subbu Venkatraman


Three dimensional (3D) bioprinting has been proposed as a method for fabricating tissue engineered small diameter vascular prostheses. This technique not only involves constructing the structural features to obtain a desired pattern but the morphology of the pattern may also be used to influence the behavior of seeded cells. Herein, we 3D bioprinted a gelatin hydrogel microchannel construct to promote and preserve the contractile phenotype of vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs), which is crucial for vasoresponsiveness. The microchanneled surface of a gelatin hydrogel facilitated vSMC attachment and an elongated alignment along the microchannel direction. The cells displayed distinct F-actin anisotropy in the direction of the channel. The vSMC contractile phenotype was confirmed by the positive detection of contractile marker gene proteins (α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and smooth muscle-myosin heavy chain (SM-MHC)). Having demonstrated the effectiveness of the hydrogel channels bioprinted on a film, the bioprinting was applied radially to the surface of a 3D tubular construct by integrating a rotating mandrel into the 3D bioprinter. The hydrogel microchannels printed on the 3D tubular vascular construct also orientated the vSMCs and strongly promoted the contractile phenotype. Together, our study demonstrated that microchannels bioprinted using a transglutaminase crosslinked gelatin hydrogel, could successfully promote and preserve vSMC contractile phenotype. Furthermore, the hydrogel bioink could be retained on the surface of a rotating polymer tube to print radial cell guiding channels onto a vascular graft construct.


3D extrusion bioprinting Gelatin hydrogel Transglutaminase Vascular prosthesis Vascular smooth muscle cells Contractile phenotype 



This research is supported by the Singapore National Research Foundation under CREATE programme (NRF-Technion): The Regenerative Medicine Initiative in Cardiac Restoration Therapy Research Program.

Compliance with ethical standards

Statement of ethical approval

No ethical approval was required for this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ajay Tijore
    • 1
  • Jean-Marc Behr
    • 1
  • Scott Alexander Irvine
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vrushali Baisane
    • 1
  • Subbu Venkatraman
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Materials Science and EngineeringNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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