UV-Photolithography Fabrication of Poly-Ethylene Glycol Hydrogels Encapsulated with Hepatocytes
The development of biomanufacturing technologies particularly, layered manufacturing has advanced cell encapsulation processes in an effort to mimic the cellular microenvironment for invitro studies. This paper illustrates an inexpensive UV-photolithographic method for encapsulation of human hepatocytes in three dimensional structures using poly-ethylene diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels as candidate substrates. In order to further develop this technology for layered fabrication, we have quantified the long-term effects of the photo-initiator concentration and UV light exposure on the metabolic rates of encapsulated human hepatocytes under a 21 day study. The photoinitator toxicity was observed immediately after polymerization with no significant cytotoxicity on a long term basis. A cellular viability is examined and reported for the UV photopolymerization process. Cell phenotype maintenance was observed by measuring the amount of urea produced over a 1 week time period. This photo encapsulation process may find use in the fabrication of spatially complex 3D scaffolds for tissue engineering applications, elucidation of the 3D structure-pharmacokinetic response relationship and the fabrication of complex multi-compartment liver tissue analog devices for drug screening applications.