Culture more relevant liver models with the HEP X Kit

As the largest internal organ in the human body, the liver fulfills more than 500 vital functions, including synthesizing major plasma proteins, fighting against infectious pathogens and playing an important role in drug metabolism. To better understand diseases affecting this vital organ and develop the most appropriate therapeutics, researchers need the ability to create improved liver tissue models.

While developing the HEP X Kit, our latest tissue-specific bioink kit, we included decellularized liver extracellular matrix (ECM) and leveraged our expertise developing bioinks and hydrogels that are optimized for 3D bioprintability and stability. The HEP X Kit’s components (ECM, nanocellulose, alginate) are packaged separately. While this ensures a longer shelf life in transit, it also gives you more flexibility to fine-tune the properties of the resulting bioink by adjusting the formulation in your lab.

The HEP X Kit’s liver-specific ECM component serves as a superior microenvironment, with relevant biomechanical cues that guide and influence cellular processes in hepatocyte and Kupffer cells. The kit’s ECM is also derived from porcine liver, which is physiologically more relevant to the human liver than ECM that is derived from the liver of mice. Liver-specific proteins and growth factors along with physical signaling markers, such as topography and stiffness, further facilitate cell-to-cell and cell-to-ECM interactions in liver cell cultures. The nanocellulose component imparts shear-thinning properties to the resulting HEP X bioink, ensuring favorable printability. This bioink also exhibits dual crosslinking capabilities, including mild thermal gelation at 37°C and stronger ionic gelation thanks to the included alginate component. Stronger gelation ensures that the cell cultures produced with the HEP X bioink will maintain their shape post print, extending the stability of your liver models.

In internal CELLINK studies, HepG2 cells were cultured with the HEP X bioink, and a group of control cells were cultured with an equivalent non-ECM bioink. At Days 1, 7 and 14, both samples were run through qPCR tests to determine the levels of key liver-specific metabolic gene expressions (albumin, AFP and SerpinA1). The cell culture produced with the HEP X bioink showed better cell function and activity, including more consistent clustering and higher cell viability, than the non-ECM bioink control sample.


qPCR analysis of RNA from HepG2 cells at Days 1, 7 and 14 in non-ECM bioink and HEP X bioink. The expression levels of genes are shown relative to the expression level of the housekeeping gene glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH).

CELLINK’s new HEP X Kit elevates the quality of your liver tissue models by providing the components and quality to create the ideal bioink for culturing HepG2 cells. Superior liver tissue models that better mimic human physiology allow you to observe these cells outside the body like never before. Plus, using standardized sterile components, like those provided in the HEP X Kit, ensures low batch-to-batch variation so that your results are reliably reproducible. Strengthen your workflow in research areas such as fibrosis, oncology, tissue regeneration, immunology, and other liver-related applications with the liver-tissue specific HEP X Kit.

You can learn more about the HEP X Kit by reaching out to our bioink specialists at or exploring our bioinks here.

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