Integration of 3D-printed cerebral cortical tissue into an ex vivo lesioned brain slice

04 October 2023

Nature Communications

Jin, Y., Mikhailova, E., Lei, M. et al. Integration of 3D-printed cerebral cortical tissue into an ex vivo lesioned brain slice. Nat Commun 14, 5986 (2023).

View Journal Article / Working Paper

Engineering human tissue with diverse cell types and architectures remains challenging. The cerebral cortex, which has a layered cellular architecture composed of layer-specific neurons organised into vertical columns, delivers higher cognition through intricately wired neural circuits. However, current tissue engineering approaches cannot produce such structures. Here, we use a droplet printing technique to fabricate tissues comprising simplified cerebral cortical columns. Human induced pluripotent stem cells are differentiated into upper- and deep-layer neural progenitors, which are then printed to form cerebral cortical tissues with a two-layer organization. The tissues show layer-specific biomarker expression and develop a structurally integrated network of processes. Implantation of the printed cortical tissues into ex vivo mouse brain explants results in substantial structural implant-host integration across the tissue boundaries as demonstrated by the projection of processes and the migration of neurons, and leads to the appearance of correlated Ca2+ oscillations across the interface. The presented approach might be used for the evaluation of drugs and nutrients that promote tissue integration. Importantly, our methodology offers a technical reservoir for future personalized implantation treatments that use 3D tissues derived from a patient’s own induced pluripotent stem cells.