Design and Synthesis of Stem Cell-Laden Keratin/Glycol Chitosan Methacrylate Bioinks for 3D Bioprinting

Kai Fu Yu, Ting Yu Lu, Yi Chen Ethan Li, Kuang Chih Teng, Yin Chuan Chen, Yang Wei, Tzu En Lin, Nai Chen Cheng, Jiashing Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


With the advancements in tissue engineering and three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting, physiologically relevant three-dimensional structures with suitable mechanical and bioactive properties that mimic the biological tissue can be designed and fabricated. However, the available bioinks are less than demanded. In this research, the readily available biomass sources, keratin and glycol chitosan, were selected to develop a UV-curable hydrogel that is feasible for the 3D bioprinting process. Keratin methacrylate and glycol chitosan methacrylate were synthesized, and a hybrid bioink was created by combining this protein-polysaccharide cross-linked hydrogel. While human hair keratin could provide biological functions, the other composition, glycol chitosan, could further enhance the mechanical strength of the construct. The mechanical properties, degradation profile, swelling behavior, cell viability, and proliferation were investigated with various ratios of keratin methacrylate to glycol chitosan methacrylate. The composition of 2% (w/v) keratin methacrylate and 2% (w/v) chitosan methacrylate showed a significantly higher cell number and swelling percentage than other compositions and was designated as the bioink for 3D printing afterward. The feasibility of stem cell loading in the selected formula was examined with an extrusion-based bioprinter. The cells and spheroids can be successfully printed with the synthesized bioink into a specific shape and cultured. This work provides a potential option for bioinks and delivers insights into personalization research on stem cell-laden biofabricated hydrogels in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2814-2826
Number of pages13
Issue number7
StatePublished - 11 Jul 2022


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