Posts Tagged ‘ECM’

Use of 3D Bioprinting for Development of Toxicity Prediction Models

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

SOT FDA Colloquium on 3D Bioprinted Tissue Models: Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Society of Toxicology (SOT) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a workshop on “Alternative Methods for Predictive Safety Testing: 3D Bioprinted Tissue Models” on Tuesday, April 9, at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in College Park, Maryland. This workshop is the latest in the series, “SOT FDA Colloquia on Emerging Toxicological Science: Challenges in Food and Ingredient Safety.”

Human 3D bioprinted tissues represent a valuable in vitro approach for chemical, personal care product, cosmetic, and preclinical toxicity/safety testing. Bioprinting of skin, liver, and kidney is already appearing in toxicity testing applications for chemical exposures and disease modeling. The use of 3D bioprinted tissues and organs may provide future alternative approaches for testing that may more closely resemble and simulate intact human tissues to more accurately predict human responses to chemical and drug exposures.

A synopsis of the schedule and related works from the speakers is given below:


8:40 AM–9:20 AM Overview and Challenges of Bioprinting
Sharon Presnell, Amnion Foundation, Winston-Salem, NC
9:20 AM–10:00 AM Putting 3D Bioprinting to the Use of Tissue Model Fabrication
Y. Shrike Zhang, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Boston, MA
10:00 AM–10:20 AM Break
10:20 AM–11:00 AM Uses of Bioprinted Liver Tissue in Drug Development
Jean-Louis Klein, GlaxoSmithKline, Collegeville, PA
11:00 AM–11:40 AM Biofabrication of 3D Tissue Models for Disease Modeling and Chemical Screening
Marc Ferrer, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH, Rockville, MD

Sharon Presnell, Ph.D. President, Amnion Foundation

Dr. Sharon Presnell was most recently the Chief Scientific Officer at Organovo, Inc., and the President of their wholly-owned subsidiary, Samsara Sciences. She received a Ph.D. in Cell & Molecular Pathology from the Medical College of Virginia and completed her undergraduate degree in biology at NC State. In addition to her most recent roles, Presnell has served as the director of cell biology R&D at Becton Dickinson’s corporate research center in RTP, and as the SVP of R&D at Tengion. Her roles have always involved the commercial and clinical translation of basic research and early development in the cell biology space. She serves on the board of the Coulter Foundation at the University of Virginia and is a member of the College of Life Sciences Foundation Board at NC State. In January 2019, Dr. Presnell will begin a new role as President of the Amnion Foundation, a non-profit organization in Winston-Salem.

A few of her relevant publications:

Bioprinted liver provides early insight into the role of Kupffer cells in TGF-β1 and methotrexate-induced fibrogenesis

Integrating Kupffer cells into a 3D bioprinted model of human liver recapitulates fibrotic responses of certain toxicants in a time and context dependent manner.  This work establishes that the presence of Kupffer cells or macrophages are important mediators in fibrotic responses to certain hepatotoxins and both should be incorporated into bioprinted human liver models for toxicology testing.

Bioprinted 3D Primary Liver Tissues Allow Assessment of Organ-Level Response to Clinical Drug Induced Toxicity In Vitro

Abstract: Modeling clinically relevant tissue responses using cell models poses a significant challenge for drug development, in particular for drug induced liver injury (DILI). This is mainly because existing liver models lack longevity and tissue-level complexity which limits their utility in predictive toxicology. In this study, we established and characterized novel bioprinted human liver tissue mimetics comprised of patient-derived hepatocytes and non-parenchymal cells in a defined architecture. Scaffold-free assembly of different cell types in an in vivo-relevant architecture allowed for histologic analysis that revealed distinct intercellular hepatocyte junctions, CD31+ endothelial networks, and desmin positive, smooth muscle actin negative quiescent stellates. Unlike what was seen in 2D hepatocyte cultures, the tissues maintained levels of ATP, Albumin as well as expression and drug-induced enzyme activity of Cytochrome P450s over 4 weeks in culture. To assess the ability of the 3D liver cultures to model tissue-level DILI, dose responses of Trovafloxacin, a drug whose hepatotoxic potential could not be assessed by standard pre-clinical models, were compared to the structurally related non-toxic drug Levofloxacin. Trovafloxacin induced significant, dose-dependent toxicity at clinically relevant doses (≤ 4uM). Interestingly, Trovafloxacin toxicity was observed without lipopolysaccharide stimulation and in the absence of resident macrophages in contrast to earlier reports. Together, these results demonstrate that 3D bioprinted liver tissues can both effectively model DILI and distinguish between highly related compounds with differential profile. Thus, the combination of patient-derived primary cells with bioprinting technology here for the first time demonstrates superior performance in terms of mimicking human drug response in a known target organ at the tissue level.

A great interview with Dr. Presnell and the 3D Models 2017 Symposium is located here:

Please click here for Web based and PDF version of interview

Some highlights of the interview include

  • Exciting advances in field showing we can model complex tissue-level disease-state phenotypes that develop in response to chronic long term injury or exposure
  • Sees the field developing a means to converge both the biology and physiology of tissues, namely modeling the connectivity between tissues such as fluid flow
  • Future work will need to be dedicated to develop comprehensive analytics for 3D tissue analysis. As she states “we are very conditioned to get information in a simple way from biochemical readouts in two dimension, monocellular systems”  however how we address the complexity of various cellular responses in a 3D multicellular environment will be pertinent.
  • Additional challenges include the scalability of such systems and making such system accessible in a larger way
  1. Shrike Zhang, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology

Dr. Zhang currently holds an Assistant Professor position at Harvard Medical School and is an Associate Bioengineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His research interests include organ-on-a-chip, 3D bioprinting, biomaterials, regenerative engineering, biomedical imaging, biosensing, nanomedicine, and developmental biology. His scientific contributions have been recognized by >40 international, national, and regional awards. He has been invited to deliver >70 lectures worldwide, and has served as reviewer for >400 manuscripts for >30 journals. He is serving as Editor-in-Chief for Microphysiological Systems, and Associate Editor for Bio-Design and Manufacturing. He is also on Editorial Board of BioprintingHeliyonBMC Materials, and Essays in Biochemistry, and on Advisory Panel of Nanotechnology.

Some relevant references from Dr. Zhang

Multi-tissue interactions in an integrated three-tissue organ-on-a-chip platform.

Skardal A, Murphy SV, Devarasetty M, Mead I, Kang HW, Seol YJ, Shrike Zhang Y, Shin SR, Zhao L, Aleman J, Hall AR, Shupe TD, Kleensang A, Dokmeci MR, Jin Lee S, Jackson JD, Yoo JJ, Hartung T, Khademhosseini A, Soker S, Bishop CE, Atala A.

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 18;7(1):8837. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-08879-x.


Reconstruction of Large-scale Defects with a Novel Hybrid Scaffold Made from Poly(L-lactic acid)/Nanohydroxyapatite/Alendronate-loaded Chitosan Microsphere: in vitro and in vivo Studies.

Wu H, Lei P, Liu G, Shrike Zhang Y, Yang J, Zhang L, Xie J, Niu W, Liu H, Ruan J, Hu Y, Zhang C.

Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 23;7(1):359. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-00506-z.



A liver-on-a-chip platform with bioprinted hepatic spheroids.

Bhise NS, Manoharan V, Massa S, Tamayol A, Ghaderi M, Miscuglio M, Lang Q, Shrike Zhang Y, Shin SR, Calzone G, Annabi N, Shupe TD, Bishop CE, Atala A, Dokmeci MR, Khademhosseini A.

Biofabrication. 2016 Jan 12;8(1):014101. doi: 10.1088/1758-5090/8/1/014101.


Marc Ferrer, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH

Marc Ferrer is a team leader in the NCATS Chemical Genomics Center, which was part of the National Human Genome Research Institute when Ferrer began working there in 2010. He has extensive experience in drug discovery, both in the pharmaceutical industry and academic research. Before joining NIH, he was director of assay development and screening at Merck Research Laboratories. For 10 years at Merck, Ferrer led the development of assays for high-throughput screening of small molecules and small interfering RNA (siRNA) to support programs for lead and target identification across all disease areas.

At NCATS, Ferrer leads the implementation of probe development programs, discovery of drug combinations and development of innovative assay paradigms for more effective drug discovery. He advises collaborators on strategies for discovering small molecule therapeutics, including assays for screening and lead identification and optimization. Ferrer has experience implementing high-throughput screens for a broad range of disease areas with a wide array of assay technologies. He has led and managed highly productive teams by setting clear research strategies and goals and by establishing effective collaborations between scientists from diverse disciplines within industry, academia and technology providers.

Ferrer has a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard University’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. He received a B.Sc. degree in organic chemistry from the University of Barcelona in Spain.


Some relevant references for Dr. Ferrer

Fully 3D Bioprinted Skin Equivalent Constructs with Validated Morphology and Barrier Function.

Derr K, Zou J, Luo K, Song MJ, Sittampalam GS, Zhou C, Michael S, Ferrer M, Derr P.

Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2019 Apr 22. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2018.0318. [Epub ahead of print]


Determination of the Elasticity Modulus of 3D-Printed Octet-Truss Structures for Use in Porous Prosthesis Implants.

Bagheri A, Buj-Corral I, Ferrer M, Pastor MM, Roure F.

Materials (Basel). 2018 Nov 29;11(12). pii: E2420. doi: 10.3390/ma11122420.


Mutation Profiles in Glioblastoma 3D Oncospheres Modulate Drug Efficacy.

Wilson KM, Mathews-Griner LA, Williamson T, Guha R, Chen L, Shinn P, McKnight C, Michael S, Klumpp-Thomas C, Binder ZA, Ferrer M, Gallia GL, Thomas CJ, Riggins GJ.

SLAS Technol. 2019 Feb;24(1):28-40. doi: 10.1177/2472630318803749. Epub 2018 Oct 5.


A high-throughput imaging and nuclear segmentation analysis protocol for cleared 3D culture models.

Boutin ME, Voss TC, Titus SA, Cruz-Gutierrez K, Michael S, Ferrer M.

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 24;8(1):11135. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-29169-0.

A High-Throughput Screening Model of the Tumor Microenvironment for Ovarian Cancer Cell Growth.

Lal-Nag M, McGee L, Guha R, Lengyel E, Kenny HA, Ferrer M.

SLAS Discov. 2017 Jun;22(5):494-506. doi: 10.1177/2472555216687082. Epub 2017 Jan 31.


Exploring Drug Dosing Regimens In Vitro Using Real-Time 3D Spheroid Tumor Growth Assays.

Lal-Nag M, McGee L, Titus SA, Brimacombe K, Michael S, Sittampalam G, Ferrer M.

SLAS Discov. 2017 Jun;22(5):537-546. doi: 10.1177/2472555217698818. Epub 2017 Mar 15.


RNAi High-Throughput Screening of Single- and Multi-Cell-Type Tumor Spheroids: A Comprehensive Analysis in Two and Three Dimensions.

Fu J, Fernandez D, Ferrer M, Titus SA, Buehler E, Lal-Nag MA.

SLAS Discov. 2017 Jun;22(5):525-536. doi: 10.1177/2472555217696796. Epub 2017 Mar 9.


Other Articles on 3D Bioprinting on this Open Access Journal include:

Global Technology Conferences on 3D BioPrinting 2015 – 2016

3D Medical BioPrinting Technology Reporting by Irina Robu, PhD – a forthcoming Article in “Medical 3D BioPrinting – The Revolution in Medicine, Technologies for Patient-centered Medicine: From R&D in Biologics to New Medical Devices”

Bio-Inks and 3D BioPrinting

New Scaffold-Free 3D Bioprinting Method Available to Researchers

Gene Editing for Gene Therapies with 3D BioPrinting


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Introduction to Tissue Engineering; Nanotechnology applications

Author, Editor and Curator:  Tilda Barliya, PhD


Tissue Engineering is an emerging multidisciplinary field involving biology, medicine, and engineering that is likely to revolutionize the ways we improve the health and quality of life for millions of people by restoring, maintaining, or enhancing tissue and organ function. Tissue engineering emerged as organ transplantation is limited by the number of  available donors and high cost process, leaving thousands of people each year on the transplant waiting lists in the United States alone. Many die before an organ donor becomes available. Dr. Tal Dvir from the Langer’s lab at MIT have summarized this topic in his review (2. http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/01/nanotechnology-strategies-for-tissue.html)

Tissue engineering aims at developing functional substitutes for damaged tissues and organs, a process that involves the use of a combination of cells, engineering and material methods, including suitable biochemical and chemical factors to improve or replace biological functions. Rather than simply introducing cells into a diseased area to repopulate a defect and/or restore function, in tissue engineering the cells are often seeded in or onto biomaterials (scaffolds) before transplantation.

These biomaterial scaffold allows cells to attach and reorganize to form functional tissue by proliferating, synthesizing extracellular matrix, and migrating along the implant path (1,2,3) Figure 1.

Until recently, it was believed that the macroporous features of scaffolds used in tissue engineering mimicked the dimension scale of the extracellular matrix (ECM), and that the matrix itself (natural or artificial) only served as a support for the cells; morphogenesis was controlled passively by defining tissue boundaries. Emphasis was placed on critical engineering and material issues, such as improving mass transfer into the core of the cell constructs and designing biocompatible and biodegradable scaffolds with mechanical properties suitable for engineering various tissues. As the field evolved, attention focused on the biology of the scaffolds and how they affect various cell types.

Tissue engineers had recognized that some of the widely used scaffolds do not fairly recapitulate the cell microenvironment and that the ECM is a dynamic and hierarchically organized nanocomposite that regulates essential cellular functions such as:

  • morphogenesis,
  • differentiation
  • proliferation
  • adhesion
  • migration

Nanotechnological tools for tissue engineering may help design advanced nanocomposite scaffolds that can better mimic the ECM and eventually assemble more complex and larger functional tissues. In order to generate a functional tissue, effective organization of cells in the tissue is required with similar morphology and physiology of the parental tissue.

Morphogenesis in the three-dimensional (3D) scaffold should occur in a similar way to natural organ development. The cells reorganize owing to interaction with the ECM on the basis of:

  • topography,
  • mechanical properties (such as matrix stiffness, elasticity and viscosity)
  • concentration gradients of immobilized growth factors
  • ECM molecules.

Recently, Ott and co-workers (4) reported a study emphasizing the importance of the ECM structure in guiding the seeded cells and promoting morphogenesis. Rat hearts were decellularized by perfusion of detergents to preserve the underlying ECM and then reseeded with cardiac and endothelial cells (4). The cells migrated and self-organized in their natural location in the matrix and by day 8, under physiological load and electrical stimulation, the constructs were able to generate pump function (4). The importance of the ECM was shown for:

  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Arteries
  • Liver
  • Bone
  • Nerve

So why is the Extracellular Martix (ECM) so important?

The ECM is composed of an intricate interweaving of protein fibres such as fibrillar collagens and elastins, ranging from 10 to several hundreds of nanometres. The mesh is covered with nanoscale adhesive proteins such as laminin and fibronectin that provide specific binding sites for cell adhesion (interacting with integrins, cadherins and so forth) and have been shown to regulate important cell behaviours such as growth, shape, migration and differentiation. Polysaccharides such as hyaluronic acid and heparan sulphate fill the interstitial space between the fibres and act as a compression buffer against the stress placed on the ECM or serve as a growth factor depot (Figure 2).

Scaffold design considerations

The ECMs of various tissues in the body differ in the composition and spatial organization of the collagens, elastins, proteoglycans and adhesion molecules, to maintain specific tissue morphologies and organ specific shape and function, and to supply specific instructive cues. Therefore, the design considerations for scaffolds should vary according to the desired engineered tissue. For example, the biochemical, electrical and mechanical functions of the heart are uniquely dependent on their biological nanostructures. The heart’s 3D ECM network is composed of an intricate, micro- and nanoscale interweaving pattern of fibrillar collagen and elastin bundles that form a dense, elastic network with proteoglycans and with adhesive and non-adhesive molecules. In this defined mesh, the cardiomyocytes are forced to couple mechanically to each other, to form elongated and aligned cell bundles that interact with each other or with neighbouring capillaries and nerves.

Post-isolation cells lose their ultrastructural elongated morphology and their interaction with their surroundings, and they adopt a random distribution on the flat surface of the scaffold, which compromises many of their physiological properties. Therefore, the structure and support of the ECM is crucial. See Figure 2.

Limitations of the ECM:

  • Weak mechanical properties
  • Lack of electrical conductivity
  • Absence of adhesive and micoenvironment- defining moieties
  • Inability of cells to self-assemble to 3D tissue structure.

The rational behind incorporating nanostructures is to compensate for other scaffold limitations (Table 2) Ref.2

The Heart for example requires more than alignment and mechanical support (Boyang Zhang, Ref 5)

  1. cell responses to micro- and nanopatterned topographical cues
  2. cell responses to patterned biochemical cues
  3. controlled 3D scaffolds
  4. patterned tissue vascularization
  5. electromechanical regulation (conductivity). of tissue assembly and function

Nanostructures can be used to record the electronic signals that are transmitted through cells such as neurons and cardiomyocytes. One way to record these signals is by lithographically defining nanostructures as field-effect transistors, which are sensitive to local electric field changes. In particular, silicon nanowire transistors are useful for measuring extracellular signals because they exhibit particularly exquisite field-effect sensitivity compared with conventional, planar devices; they are just tens of nanometres in diameter and can therefore interface with cells and tissue at a subcellular level; and they show nanotopographic features that encourage tight interfaces with biological systems.



This introduction reviewed some of the aspects required for tissue engineering  with the affiliation to nanotechnology. In the next post, we will dive deeper into a specific tissue organ, the bioengineering aspect and how nanotechnology strategies may improve the design and outcome.



1. http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=35168

2.  Dvir T.,  Timko BR., Kohane DS., and Langer R. Nanotechnological strategies for engineering complex tissues. Nature Nanotechnology 2010; 12():. http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/01/nanotechnology-strategies-for-tissue.html

3. http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/v6/n1/abs/nnano.2010.246.html

4.  Ott, H. C. et al. Perfusion-decellularized matrix: Using nature’s platform to engineer a bioartificial heart. Nature Med. 14, 213–221 (2008).

5. Boyang Zhang, Yun Xiao, Anne Hsieh, Nimalan Thavandiran and Milica Radisic. Micro- and nanotechnology in cardiovascular tissue engineering. Nanotechnology 2011; 22(49): 494003

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