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3D-printing of silk nanofibrils reinforced alginate for soft tissue engineering

The main challenge of extrusion 3D bioprinting is the development of bioinks with the desired rheological and mechanical performance and biocompatibility to create complex and patient-specific scaffolds in a repeatable and accurate manner. This study aims to introduce non-synthetic bioinks based on alginate (Alg) incorporated with various concentrations of silk nanofibrils (SNF, 1, 2, and 3 wt.%) and optimize their properties for soft tissue engineering. Alg-SNF inks demonstrated a high degree of shear-thinning with reversible stress softening behavior contributing to extrusion in pre-designed shapes. In addition, our results confirmed the good interaction between SNFs and alginate matrix resulted in significantly improved mechanical and biological characteristics and controlled degradation rate. Noticeably, the addition of 2 wt.% SNF improved the compressive strength (2.2 times), tensile strength (5 times), and elastic modulus (3 times) of alginate. In addition, reinforcing 3D-printed alginate with 2 wt.% SNF resulted in increased cell viability (1.5 times) and proliferation (5.6 times) after 5 days of culturing. In summary, our study highlights the favorable rheological and mechanical performances, degradation rate, swelling, and biocompatibility of Alg-2SNF ink containing 2 wt.% SNF for extrusion-based bioprinting.

Journal Papers

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