Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 54, Issue 10, pp 7883–7892 | Cite as

Direct writing alginate bioink inside pre-polymers of hydrogels to create patterned vascular networks

  • Yongkang Wang
  • Xiaobo HuangEmail author
  • Yi Shen
  • Ruiqiang Hang
  • Xiangyu Zhang
  • Yueyue Wang
  • Xiaohong Yao
  • Bin Tang
Materials for life sciences


We describe a strategy to fabricate a hydrogel-based microvascular construct by direct writing alginate bioink inside the viscous pre-polymer of hydrogels, which acts as a support bath. As the print needle translates through the polymers, the extruded alginate instantaneously forms calcium alginate hydrogel (Ca-Alg) templates deposited within the bath. This phase change allows the formed templates to be anchored within the pre-polymers, while maintaining their structure. After the printing process, the pre-polymers are solidified to form a mechanically robust hydrogel. Finally, a hydrogel construct with embedded microchannels is generated by liquefying and removing the Ca-Alg templates. Using this method, not only the alginate ink alone can be directly printed within the engineered constructs, but also the size and shape of the formed microchannels are controllable. Furthermore, a confluent endothelial layer for the generation of vascular networks can be constructed by adhering and proliferating endothelial cells on the channel linings. This strategy demonstrates a promising technique for rapid construction of in vitro vasculatures, which would provide a versatile platform for a wide array of applications such as tissue engineering, organ-on-a-chip and drug screening.



This work was supported by the Chinese Government Scholarship (No. 201508140048), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31300808), and Scientific and Technological Innovation Programs of Higher Education Institutions in Shanxi (201417 and 201626).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

10853_2019_3447_MOESM1_ESM.docx (4.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 4223 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Material Science and EngineeringTaiyuan University of TechnologyTaiyuanChina

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