Alginate–Gelatin Hydrogel Scaffolds; An Optimization of Post-Printing Treatment for Enhanced Degradation and Swelling Behavior

Ch. Kaliampakou, N. Lagopati, E.A. Pavlatou, C.A. Charitidis

Gels 2023, 9, 857

The generation of 3D structures comprises three interlinked phases: material development, the printing process, and post-printing treatment. Numerous factors control all three phases, making the optimization of the entire process a challenging task. Until now, the state of the art has mainly focused on optimizing material processability and calibration of the printing process. However, after the successful Direct Ink Writing (DIW) of a hydrogel scaffold, the post-printing stage holds equal importance, as this allows for the treatment of the structure to ensure the preservation of its structural integrity for a duration that is sufficient to enable successful cell attachment and proliferation before undergoing degradation. Despite this stage’s pivotal role, there is a lack of extensive literature covering its optimization. By studying the crosslinking factors and leveling the post-treatment settings of alginate–gelatin hydrogel, this study proposes a method to enhance scaffolds’ degradation without compromising the targeted swelling behavior. It introduces an experimental design implementing the Response Surface Methodology (RSM) Design of Experiments (DoE), which elucidated the key parameters influencing scaffold degradation and swelling, and established an alginate ratio of 8% and being immersed for 15 min in 0.248 M CaCl2 as the optimal level configuration that generates a solution of 0.964 desirability, reaching a degradation time of 19.654 days and the swelling ratio of 50.00%.

doi: 10.3390/gels9110857

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