rapid 3d bioprinting of liver tissue models for cancer invasion study

Department: Bioengineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Shaochen Chen

Primary Student
Name: Xuanyi Ma
Email: xum001@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858-534-5602
Grad Year: 2018

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) growth and invasion mostly occurs within an altered biomechanical environment in a cirrhotic liver. Current in vitro HCC models fail to provide a 3D cirrhotic environment with complex native composition and biomimetic architecture necessary for the development of better predictive tissue models. Here, we demonstrate the use of a rapid light-based 3D bioprinting system to build a liver dECM-based cancer model with well-preserved key ECM components and tailorable mechanical properties. Under cirrhotic mechanical environment, encapsulated HepG2 cells demonstrated reduced growth and liver-specific marker expression along with an upregulation of angiogenic and invasion markers compared to healthy controls. Moreover, a HCC invasion model possessing tissue-scale organization and patterning of distinct regional stiffness enabled the visualization of HepG2 cell invasion from the hepatocellular nodules to the surrounding septa. Overall, our 3D bioprinted dECM-based model demonstrates great potential as a pathological relevant platform to model and study liver cancer behavior under a fibrotic environment. The successful application of light-based bioprinting technology in liver tissue engineering also highlights a significant advancement in creating complex ECM material with biomimetic architecture and tunable mechanical properties for in vitro disease modeling.

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