Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



ACS Biomater Sci Eng. 2021 June 14; 7(6): 2204–2211. doi:10.1021/acsbiomaterials.1c00344




Minimally invasive procedures are becoming increasingly more common in surgery. However, the biomaterials capable of delivering biomimetic, three-dimensional (3D) functional tissues in a minimally invasive manner and exhibiting ordered structures after delivery are lacking. Herein, we reported the fabrication of gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA)-coated, 3D expanded nanofiber scaffolds and their potential applications in minimally invasive delivery of 3D functional tissue constructs with ordered structures and clinically appropriate sizes (4 cm × 2 cm × 1.5 mm). GelMA-coated, expanded 3D nanofiber scaffolds produced by combining electrospinning, gas-foaming expansion, hydrogel coating, and crosslinking are extremely shape recoverable after release of compressive strain, displaying a superelastic property. Such scaffolds can be seeded with various types of cells, including dermal fibroblasts, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, and human neural stem/precursor cells to form 3D complex tissue constructs. Importantly, the developed 3D tissue constructs can be compressed and loaded into a 4-mm diameter glass tube for minimally invasive delivery without compromising the cell viability. Taken together, the method developed in this study could hold great promise for transplantation of biomimetic, 3D functional tissue constructs with well-organized structures for tissue repair and regeneration using minimally invasive procedures like laparoscopy and thoracoscopy.