Bioprinting of biomimetic skin containing melanocytes
This study reports a three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting technique that is capable of producing a full-thickness skin model containing pigmentation. Multiple layers of fibroblast (FB)-containing collagen hydrogel precursor were printed and crosslinked through neutralization using sodium bicarbonate, constituting the dermal layer. Melanocytes (MCs) and keratinocytes (KCs) were sequentially printed on top of the dermal layer to induce skin pigmentation upon subsequent air-liquid interface culture. Histological analysis was performed not only to confirm the formation of distinct skin layers, but also to identify the presence of pigmentation. The bioprinted skin structure showed the dermal and epidermal layers as well as the terminal differentiation of the KC that formed the stratum corneum. Moreover, the MC-containing epidermal layer showed freckle-like pigmentations at the dermal-epidermal junction, without the use of external ultraviolet light or chemical stimuli. The presented method offers the capability of producing engineered ephelides in biomimetic skin, thus rendering 3D bioprinting techniques as productive on-demand options for the creation of skin models available for therapeutic or research use.