Volumetric Bioprinting of Meniscus

The fabrication of functional constructs that mimic the physiological characteristics of tissues would represent a major breakthrough for the creation of complex in vitro models or for regenerative medicine. Current 3D biofabrication technologies, such as stereolithography or extrusion bioprinting, are used to attempt to achieve this goal by combining cells and biomaterials according to a specific architecture, layer by layer. This additive manufacturing method limits the ability to create clinically relevant sized constructs, as the printing time for centimeter-sized constructs is too high to preserve cell viability (cells remain in the cartridge and construct, outside of an optimal culture environment). Volumetric bioprinting is a promising technology that could produce clinically relevant sized living constructs in less than a minute.

This emerging technology uses the principle of medical tomography in reverse, projecting a 2D patterned optical light field into a volume of photopolymer, which causes cross-linking in the area where the light exposure builds up to produce a 3D construct. Paulina Nuñez Bernal et al. described in 2019 the utilisation of this technic to create a 3D meniscus-shaped construct with high resolution, high cell density, and cell viability (>85%). To do so, a gelatin-based photoresponsive hydrogel (gelMA) containing chondroprogenitor cells (ACPCs) was used. Over time, the cells in the printed constructs synthesized fibrocartilage ECM, which increased the mechanical properties of the meniscus to a compressive modulus value comparable to that of native fibrocartilage. This achievement using volumetric bioprinting could be promising for the future of knee joint repair.



Bernal, Paulina Nuñez, et al. “Volumetric bioprinting of complex living‐tissue constructs within seconds.” Advanced materials 31.42 (2019): 1904209.


This article was written by Marie Moulin as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Marie is researching the Bioprinting of Bone and Cartilage at Uppsala University, Sweden.