Adv Mater - (-) e2109823 [2022-01-14; online 2022-01-14]
3D tissue models recapitulating human physiology are important for fundamental biomedical research, and they hold promise to become a new tool in drug development. An integrated and defined microvasculature in 3D tissue models is necessary for optimal cell functions. However, conventional bioprinting only allows the fabrication of hydrogel scaffolds containing vessel-like structures with large diameters (>100 µm) and simple geometries. Recent developments in laser photoablation enable the generation of this type of structure with higher resolution and complexity, but the photo-thermal process can compromise cell viability and hydrogel integrity. To address these limitations, the present work reports in situ 3D patterning of collagen hydrogels by femtosecond laser irradiation to create channels and cavities with diameters ranging from 20 to 60 µm. In this process, laser irradiation of the hydrogel generates cavitation gas bubbles that rearrange the collagen fibers, thereby creating stable microchannels. Such 3D channels can be formed in cell- and organoid-laden hydrogel without affecting the viability outside the lumen and can enable the formation of artificial microvasculature by the culture of endothelial cells and cell media perfusion. Thus, this method enables organs-on-a-chip and 3D tissue models featuring complex microvasculature.