Osteogenic and angiogenic tissue formation in high fidelity nanocomposite Laponite-gelatin bioinks

Gianluca Cidonio, Cesar R. Alcala-Orozco, Khoon S. Lim, Michael Glinka, Isha Mutreja, Yang Hee Kim, Jonathan I. Dawson, Tim B.F. Woodfield, Richard O.C. Oreffo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Bioprinting of living cells is rapidly developing as an advanced biofabrication approach to engineer tissues. Bioinks can be extruded in three-dimensions (3D) to fabricate complex and hierarchical constructs for implantation. However, a lack of functionality can often be attributed to poor bioink properties. Indeed, advanced bioinks encapsulating living cells should: (i) present optimal rheological properties and retain 3D structure post fabrication, (ii) promote cell viability and support cell differentiation, and (iii) localise proteins of interest (e.g. vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)) to stimulate encapsulated cell activity and tissue ingrowth upon implantation. In this study, we present the results of the inclusion of a synthetic nanoclay, Laponite® (LPN) together with a gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) bioink and the development of a functional cell-instructive bioink. A nanocomposite bioink displaying enhanced shape fidelity retention and interconnected porosity within extrusion-bioprinted fibres was observed. Human bone marrow stromal cell (HBMSC) viability within the nanocomposite showed no significant changes over 21 days of culture in LPN-GelMA (85.60 ± 10.27%), compared to a significant decrease in GelMA from 7 (95.88 ± 2.90%) to 21 days (55.54 ± 14.72%) (p < 0.01). HBMSCs were observed to proliferate in LPN-GelMA with a significant increase in cell number over 21 days (p < 0.0001) compared to GelMA alone. HBMSC-laden LPN-GelMA scaffolds supported osteogenic differentiation evidenced by mineralised nodule formation, including in the absence of the osteogenic drug dexamethasone. Ex vivo implantation in a chick chorioallantoic membrane model, demonstrated excellent integration of the bioink constructs in the vascular chick embryo after 7 days of incubation. VEGF-loaded LPN-GelMA constructs demonstrated significantly higher vessel penetration than GelMA-VEGF (p < 0.0001) scaffolds. Integration and vascularisation was directly related to increased drug absorption and retention by LPN-GelMA compared to LPN-free GelMA. In summary, a novel light-curable nanocomposite bioink for 3D skeletal regeneration supportive of cell growth and growth factor retention and delivery, evidenced by ex vivo vasculogenesis, was developed with potential application in hard and soft tissue reparation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number035027
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioink
  • Ex vivo
  • GelMA
  • Growth factor delivery
  • Hydrogels
  • Laponite
  • Skeletal cell


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