8 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Reliable in vitro cellular models are needed to study the phenotypic modulation of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) in health and disease. The aim of this study was to optimize gelatin methacrylate (GelMA)/alginate hydrogels for bioprinting three-dimensional (3D) SMC constructs.

METHODS: Four different hydrogel groups were prepared by mixing different concentrations (% w/v) of GelMA and alginate: G1 (5/1.5), G2 (5/3), G3 (7.5/1.5), and G4 (7.5/3). GelMA 10% was used as control (G5). A circular structure containing human bladder SMCs was fabricated by using an extrusion-based bioprinter. The effects of the mixing ratios on printability, viability, proliferation, and differentiation of the cells were investigated.

RESULTS: Rheological analysis showed that the addition of alginate significantly stabilized the change in mechanical properties with temperature variations. The group with the highest GelMA and alginate concentrations (G4) exhibited the highest viscosity, resulting in better stability of the 3D construct after crosslinking. Compared to other hydrogel compositions, cells in G4 maintained high viability (> 80%), exhibited spindle-shaped morphology, and showed a significantly higher proliferation rate within an 8-day period. More importantly, G4 provided an optimal environment for the induction of a SMC contractile phenotype, as evidenced by significant changes in the expression of marker proteins and morphological parameters.

CONCLUSION: Adjusting the composition of GelMA/alginate hydrogels is an effective means of controlling the SMC phenotype. These hydrogels support bioprinting of 3D models to study phenotypic smooth muscle adaptation, with the prospect of using the constructs in the study of therapies for the treatment of urethral strictures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTissue engineering and regenerative medicine
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)199-212
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2022. Korean Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society.


  • Biomechanical phenomena
  • Bioprinting
  • Hydrogel
  • Smooth muscle myocytes
  • Urethral stricture


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