Effects of Gelatin Methacrylate Bio-ink Concentration on Mechano-Physical Properties and Human Dermal Fibroblast Behavior
Gelatin-methacryloyl (GelMa) is a very versatile biomaterial widely used in various biomedical applications. The addition of methacryloyl makes it possible to have hydrogels with varying mechanical properties due to its photocuring characteristics. In addition, gelatin is obtained and derived from natural material; thus, it retains various cell-friendly motifs, such as arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, which then provides implanted cells with a friendly environment for proliferation and differentiation. In this study, we fabricated human dermal fibroblast cell (hDF)-laden photocurable GelMa hydrogels with varying physical properties (5%, 10%, and 15%) and assessed them for cellular responses and behavior, including cell spreading, proliferation, and the degree of extracellular matrix remodeling. Under similar photocuring conditions, lower concentrations of GelMa hydrogels had lower mechanical properties than higher concentrations. Furthermore, other properties, such as swelling and degradation, were compared in this study. In addition, our findings revealed that there were increased remodeling and proliferation markers in the 5% GelMa group, which had lower mechanical properties. However, it was important to note that cellular viabilities were not affected by the stiffness of the hydrogels. With this result in mind, we attempted to fabricate 5&ndash;15% GelMa scaffolds (20 &times; 20 &times; 3 mm3) to assess their feasibility for use in skin regeneration applications. The results showed that both 10% and 15% GelMa scaffolds could be fabricated easily at room temperature by adjusting several parameters, such as printing speed and extrusion pressure. However, since the sol-gel temperature of 5% GelMa was noted to be lower than its counterparts, 5% GelMa scaffolds had to be printed at low temperatures. In conclusion, GelMa once again was shown to be an ideal biomaterial for various tissue engineering applications due to its versatile mechanical and biological properties. This study showed the feasibility of GelMa in skin tissue engineering and its potential as an alternative for skin transplants.