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Adv Healthc Mater. 2019 Apr;8(7):e1801631. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201801631. Epub 2019 Mar 5.

3D Bioprinting of Functional Islets of Langerhans in an Alginate/Methylcellulose Hydrogel Blend.

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Centre for Translational Bone, Joint and Soft Tissue Research, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus and Faculty of Medicine of Technische Universität Dresden, Fetscherstr. 74, 01307, Dresden, Germany.
Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of Helmholtz Centre Munich at University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus of Technische Universität Dresden and German Centre for Diabetes Research, Dresden, Tatzberg 47-49, 01307, Dresden, Germany.
Department of Medicine III, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Fetscherstraße 74, 01307, Dresden, Germany.


Transplantation of pancreatic islets is a promising strategy to alleviate the unstable blood-glucose control that some patients with diabetes type 1 exhibit and has seen many advances over the years. Protection of transplanted islets from the immune system can be accomplished by encapsulation within a hydrogel, the most investigated of which is alginate. In this study, islet encapsulation is combined with 3D extrusion bioprinting, an additive manufacturing method which enables the fabrication of 3D structures with a precise geometry to produce macroporous hydrogel constructs with embedded islets. Using a plottable hydrogel blend consisting of clinically approved ultrapure alginate and methylcellulose (Alg/MC) enables encapsulating pancreatic islets in macroporous 3D hydrogel constructs of defined geometry while retaining their viability, morphology, and functionality. Diffusion of glucose and insulin in the Alg/MC hydrogel is comparable to diffusion in plain alginate; the embedded islets continuously produce insulin and glucagon throughout the observation and still react to glucose stimulation albeit to a lesser degree than control islets.


3D bioprinting; alginate; diabetes; insulin; macroporous; pancreatic islet


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