Development of 3D printable conductive hydrogel with crystallized PEDOT:PSS for neural tissue engineering.Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl 2019; 99:582-590MS
Bioelectronic devices enable efficient and effective communication between medical devices and human tissue in order to directly treat patients with various neurological disorders. Due to the mechanical similarity to human tissue, hydrogel-based electronic devices are considered to be promising for biological signal recording and stimulation of living tissues. Here, we report the first three-dimensionally (3D) printable conductive hydrogel that can be photocrosslinked while retaining high electrical conductivity. In addition, we prepared dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cell-encapsulated gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogels which were integrated with the 3D printed conductive structure and evaluated for efficiency neural differentiation under electrical stimulation (ES). For enhanced electrical conductivity, a poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT): polystyrene sulfonate (PSS) aqueous solution was freeze-dried and mixed with polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) as the photocurable polymer base. Next, the conductive hydrogel was patterned on the substrate by using a table-top stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer. The fabricated hydrogel was characterized for electrochemical conductivity. After printing with the PEDOT:PSS conductive solution, the patterned hydrogel exhibited decreased printing diameters with increasing of PEDOT:PSS concentration. Also, the resultant conductive hydrogel had significantly increased electrochemical properties with increasing PEDOT:PSS concentration. The 3D printed conductive hydrogel provides excellent structural support to systematically transfer the ES toward encapsulated DRG cells for enhanced neuronal differentiation. The results from this study indicate that the conductive hydrogel can be useful as a 3D printing material for electrical applications.