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Tissue Eng. 2007 Aug;13(8):1905-25.

Hydrogels as extracellular matrices for skeletal tissue engineering: state-of-the-art and novel application in organ printing.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Organ printing, a novel approach in tissue engineering, applies layered computer-driven deposition of cells and gels to create complex 3-dimensional cell-laden structures. It shows great promise in regenerative medicine, because it may help to solve the problem of limited donor grafts for tissue and organ repair. The technique enables anatomical cell arrangement using incorporation of cells and growth factors at predefined locations in the printed hydrogel scaffolds. This way, 3-dimensional biological structures, such as blood vessels, are already constructed. Organ printing is developing fast, and there are exciting new possibilities in this area. Hydrogels are highly hydrated polymer networks used as scaffolding materials in organ printing. These hydrogel matrices are natural or synthetic polymers that provide a supportive environment for cells to attach to and proliferate and differentiate in. Successful cell embedding requires hydrogels that are complemented with biomimetic and extracellular matrix components, to provide biological cues to elicit specific cellular responses and direct new tissue formation. This review surveys the use of hydrogels in organ printing and provides an evaluation of the recent advances in the development of hydrogels that are promising for use in skeletal regenerative medicine. Special emphasis is put on survival, proliferation and differentiation of skeletal connective tissue cells inside various hydrogel matrices.

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