Matured myofibers in bioprinted constructs with in vivo vascularization and innervation

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For decades, the study of tissue-engineered skeletal muscle has been driven by a clinical need to treat neuromuscular diseases and volumetric muscle loss. The in vitro fabrication of muscle offers the opportunity to test drug-and cell-based therapies, to study disease processes, and to perhaps, one day, serve as a muscle graft for reconstructive surgery. This study developed a biofabrication technique to engineer muscle for research and clinical applications. A bioprinting protocol was established to deliver primary mouse myoblasts in a gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) bioink, which was implanted in an in vivo chamber in a nude rat model. For the first time, this work demonstrated the phenomenon of myoblast migration through the bioprinted GelMA scaffold with cells spontaneously forming fibers on the surface of the material. This enabled advanced maturation and facilitated the connection between incoming vessels and nerve axons in vivo without the hindrance of a scaffold material. Immunohistochemistry revealed the hallmarks of tissue maturity with sarcomeric striations and peripherally placed nuclei in the organized bundles of muscle fibers. Such engineered muscle autografts could, with further structural development, eventually be used for surgical reconstructive purposes while the methodology presented here specifically has wide applications for in vitro and in vivo neuromuscular function and disease modelling.

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Australian National Fabrication Facility



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