Pore-forming bioinks to enable spatio-temporally defined gene delivery in bioprinted tissues

T. Gonzalez-Fernandez, S. Rathan, C. Hobbs, P. Pitacco, F. E. Freeman, G. M. Cunniffe, N. J. Dunne, H. O. McCarthy, V. Nicolosi, F. J. O'Brien, D. J. Kelly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The regeneration of complex tissues and organs remains a major clinical challenge. With a view towards bioprinting such tissues, we developed a new class of pore-forming bioink to spatially and temporally control the presentation of therapeutic genes within bioprinted tissues. By blending sacrificial and stable hydrogels, we were able to produce bioinks whose porosity increased with time following printing. When combined with amphipathic peptide-based plasmid DNA delivery, these bioinks supported enhanced non-viral gene transfer to stem cells in vitro. By modulating the porosity of these bioinks, it was possible to direct either rapid and transient (pore-forming bioinks), or slower and more sustained (solid bioinks) transfection of host or transplanted cells in vivo. To demonstrate the utility of these bioinks for the bioprinting of spatially complex tissues, they were next used to zonally position stem cells and plasmids encoding for either osteogenic (BMP2) or chondrogenic (combination of TGF-β3, BMP2 and SOX9) genes within networks of 3D printed thermoplastic fibers to produce mechanically reinforced, gene activated constructs. In vivo, these bioprinted tissues supported the development of a vascularised, bony tissue overlaid by a layer of stable cartilage. When combined with multiple-tool biofabrication strategies, these gene activated bioinks can enable the bioprinting of a wide range of spatially complex tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Early online date08 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2019


  • 3D printing
  • Bioink
  • Gene activated matrix
  • Non-viral gene delivery
  • Osteochondral regeneration
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Pore-forming bioinks to enable spatio-temporally defined gene delivery in bioprinted tissues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this