Modeling and Fabrication of Silk Fibroin-Gelatin-Based Constructs Using Extrusion-Based Three-Dimensional Bioprinting

Diego Trucco, Aarushi Sharma, Cristina Manferdini, Elena Gabusi, Mauro Petretta, Giovanna Desando, Leonardo Ricotti, Juhi Chakraborty, Sourabh Ghosh, Gina Lisignoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Robotic dispensing-based 3D bioprinting represents one of the most powerful technologies to develop hydrogel-based 3D constructs with enormous potential in the field of regenerative medicine. The optimization of hydrogel printing parameters, proper geometry and internal architecture of the constructs, and good cell viability during the bioprinting process are the essential requirements. In this paper, an analytical model based on the hydrogel rheological properties was developed to predict the extruded filament width in order to maximize the printed structure's fidelity to the design. Viscosity data of two natural hydrogels were imputed to a power-law model to extrapolate the filament width. Further, the model data were validated by monitoring the obtained filament width as the output. Shear stress values occurring during the bioprinting process were also estimated. Human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) were encapsulated in the silk fibroin-gelatin (G)-based hydrogel, and a 3D bioprinting process was performed to produce cell-laden constructs. Live and dead assay allowed estimating the impact of needle shear stress on cell viability after the bioprinting process. Finally, we tested the potential of hMSCs to undergo chondrogenic differentiation by evaluating the cartilaginous extracellular matrix production through immunohistochemical analyses. Overall, the use of the proposed analytical model enables defining the optimal printing parameters to maximize the fabricated constructs' fidelity to design parameters before the process execution, enabling to achieve more controlled and standardized products than classical trial-and-error approaches in the biofabrication of engineered constructs. Employing modeling systems exploiting the rheological properties of the hydrogels might be a valid tool in the future for guaranteeing high cell viability and for optimizing tissue engineering approaches in regenerative medicine applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3306-3320
Number of pages15
JournalACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering
Issue number7
Early online dateJun 8 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • 3D bioprinting
  • analytical deposition model
  • cartilage tissue engineering
  • human mesenchymal stromal cells
  • silk fibroin


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