Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
3D-Printed Gelatin Methacrylate Scaffolds with....pdf (4.46 MB)

3D-printed gelatin methacrylate scaffolds with controlled architecture and stiffness modulate the fibroblast phenotype towards dermal regeneration

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-01-17, 09:50 authored by Rita Ibanez, Ronaldo JFC Do Amaral, Rui L Reis, Alexandra P Marques, Ciara MurphyCiara Murphy, Fergal O'BrienFergal O'Brien
Impaired skin wound healing due to severe injury often leads to dysfunctional scar tissue formation as a result of excessive and persistent myofibroblast activation, characterised by the increased expression of α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Yet, despite extensive research on impaired wound healing and the advancement in tissue-engineered skin substitutes, scar formation remains a significant clinical challenge. This study aimed to first investigate the effect of methacrylate gelatin (GelMA) biomaterial stiffness on human dermal fibroblast behaviour in order to then design a range of 3D-printed GelMA scaffolds with tuneable structural and mechanical properties and understand whether the introduction of pores and porosity would support fibroblast activity, while inhibiting myofibroblast-related gene and protein expression. Results demonstrated that increasing GelMA stiffness promotes myofibroblast activation through increased fibrosis-related gene and protein expression. However, the introduction of a porous architecture by 3D printing facilitated healthy fibroblast activity, while inhibiting myofibroblast activation. A significant reduction was observed in the gene and protein production of αSMA and the expression of ECM-related proteins, including fibronectin I and collagen III, across the range of porous 3D-printed GelMA scaffolds. These results show that the 3D-printed GelMA scaffolds have the potential to improve dermal skin healing, whilst inhibiting fibrosis and scar formation, therefore potentially offering a new treatment for skin repair.


Science Foundation Ireland under the M-ERA.NET program, Transnational Call 2016 (17/US/3437; Ireland)

EU BlueHuman Interreg Atlantic Area Project (grant EAPA_151/2016)

Science Foundation Ireland, through the Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research Centre (AMBER; grants 12/RC/2278 and 12/RC/2278_P2)



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Ibañez RIR. et al. 3D-Printed gelatin methacrylate scaffolds with controlled architecture and stiffness modulate the fibroblast phenotype towards dermal regeneration. Polymers (Basel). 2021;13(15):2510

Publication Date

30 July 2021

PubMed ID



  • Amber (Advanced Material & Bioengineering Research) Centre
  • Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine
  • Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG)

Research Area

  • Immunity, Infection and Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine
  • Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences




  • Published Version (Version of Record)