3D Printed Stem-Cell Derived Neural Progenitors Generate Spinal Cord Scaffolds

Daeha Joung, Vincent Truong, Colin C. Neitzke, Shuang Zhuang Guo, Patrick J. Walsh, Joseph R. Monat, Fanben Meng, Sung Hyun Park, James R. Dutton, Ann M. Parr, Michael C. McAlpine

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184 Scopus citations


A bioengineered spinal cord is fabricated via extrusion-based multimaterial 3D bioprinting, in which clusters of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived spinal neuronal progenitor cells (sNPCs) and oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) are placed in precise positions within 3D printed biocompatible scaffolds during assembly. The location of a cluster of cells, of a single type or multiple types, is controlled using a point-dispensing printing method with a 200 µm center-to-center spacing within 150 µm wide channels. The bioprinted sNPCs differentiate and extend axons throughout microscale scaffold channels, and the activity of these neuronal networks is confirmed by physiological spontaneous calcium flux studies. Successful bioprinting of OPCs in combination with sNPCs demonstrates a multicellular neural tissue engineering approach, where the ability to direct the patterning and combination of transplanted neuronal and glial cells can be beneficial in rebuilding functional axonal connections across areas of central nervous system (CNS) tissue damage. This platform can be used to prepare novel biomimetic, hydrogel-based scaffolds modeling complex CNS tissue architecture in vitro and harnessed to develop new clinical approaches to treat neurological diseases, including spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1801850
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 26 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
D.J. and V.T. contributed equally to this work. A.M.P. and M.C.M. are cosenior authors. The authors thank David Yang, Elizabeth Smith, Samantha Barkan, and Dr. Susan A. Keirstead for insightful discussions and technical support regarding the 3D bioprinting process, statistical analysis, and the calcium imaging studies. J.R.D., A.M.P., and M.C.M. acknowledge Conquer Paralysis Now, and the Minnesota Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program. J.R.D. and A.M.P. acknowledge generous support from an anonymous philanthropic donor. M.C.M. acknowledges the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health (Award No. 1DP2EB020537). A.M.P. acknowledges the CTSI KL2 Scholar Program of the National Institutes of Health (Award No. NIHCON000000033119-3002). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • 3D bioprinting
  • induced pluripotent stem cells
  • neural progenitor cells
  • spinal cord scaffolds
  • tissue engineering


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