Contact guidance can promote cell alignment and is thus widely employed in tissue regeneration. In particular, skeletal muscle consists of long fibrous bundles of multinucleated myotubes formed by the fusion and differentiation of the satellite cells of myoblasts. Herein, a functional bioink and cell-printing process supplemented with an electric field are proposed for obtaining highly aligned myoblasts in a collagen-based bioink. To achieve the goal, we mixed Au nanowires (GNWs) with the collagen-based bioink to provide aligned topographical cues to the laden cells. Because the aligned GNWs could clearly provide topographical cues to the cells, we adjusted various processing parameters (flow rate, nozzle speed, and processing temperature) and applied an external electric field to optimally align the GNWs. By selecting an appropriate condition, the GNWs in the printed C2C12-laden structure were well aligned in the printing direction, and they eventually induced a high degree of myoblast alignment and efficient myotube formation. Through the several in vitro cellular activities and in vivo works revealing the myogenesis of the cell-laden structure, we conclude that the collagen/GNW-based cell-laden structure fabricated using the proposed method is a new prospective platform for the effective formation of muscle tissues.
KEYWORDS : Muscle tissue engineering, 3D cell-printing, collagen-based bioink, gold nanowires, electrical stimulation, cell alignment