Characterization of printable cellular micro-fluidic channels for tissue engineering

Yahui Zhang, Yin Yu, Howard Chen, Ibrahim T. Ozbolat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations


Tissue engineering has been a promising field of research, offering hope of bridging the gap between organ shortage and transplantation needs. However, building three-dimensional (3D) vascularized organs remains the main technological barrier to be overcome. One of the major challenges is the inclusion of a vascular network to support cell viability in terms of nutrients and oxygen perfusion. This paper introduces a new approach to the fabrication of vessel-like microfluidic channels that has the potential to be used in thick tissue or organ fabrication in the future. In this research, we investigate the manufacturability of printable micro-fluidic channels, where micro-fluidic channels support mechanical integrity as well as enable fluid transport in 3D. A pressure-assisted solid freeform fabrication platform is developed with a coaxial needle dispenser unit to print hollow hydrogel filaments. The dispensing rheology is studied, and effects of material properties on structural formation of hollow filaments are analyzed. Sample structures are printed through the developed computer-controlled system. In addition, cell viability and gene expression studies are presented in this paper. Cell viability shows that cartilage progenitor cells (CPCs) maintained their viability right after bioprinting and during prolonged in vitro culture. Real-time PCR analysis yielded a relatively higher expression of cartilage-specific genes in alginate hollow filament encapsulating CPCs, compared with monolayer cultured CPCs, which revealed that printable semi-permeable micro-fluidic channels provided an ideal environment for cell growth and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025004
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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