The skinny on bioprinting human skin



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Did you miss the last CELLINK webinar? Don’t worry! Here’s a recap of our conversation on bioprinting human skin tissue models.




Our speakers were Jim – CELLINK’s global applications specialist – and Isabella – CELLINK’s resident skin expert. In this seminar, Isabella talked about the skin printing project she performed here at CELLINK as part of her Master’s thesis.





First of all, why should we bioprint skin tissue models?

Enhancing work in this area opens up a lot of possibilities, including:


  • Printing more complex and relevant tissue models.
  • Examining how cells interact with each other.
  • Reducing the need for animal testing.


All in all, developing validated human skin tissue models extends possibilities for data that is more accurate, reliable and observable in a lab.


What do you need to get started bioprinting a skin tissue model?

  • A printer! In this case, we used a BIO X – CELLINK’s third-generation bioprinter that integrates customer feedback into its design, and enables users to print virtually any 3D structure.


  • The right bioink. For this project, Isabella tested and compared the results of two CELLINK bioinks to identify the components that are best for printing skin.


How do you print a skin tissue model?

Isabella’s project had three major steps:

Step One: Create the model.

Step Two: Cultivate the model.

Step Three: Validate the model.



Step One: Creating the model


To create the model, Isabella made a blueprint based on the presentation and makeup of human skin.

Human skin has two distinct layers – the epidermis and the dermis. The dermis itself has two layers with different cell concentrations, so Isabella’s blueprint had a total of three layers.



While several types of cells can be found in the epidermis and dermis, Isabella’s project narrowed these down to one hallmark cell of each: keratinocytes and fibroblasts.



Step Two: Cultivating the model


Cells need bioink to replicate their natural environment, and Isabella wanted to identify the best CELLINK bioink for printing skin. She picked two that she thought would work well:


· CELLINK-RGD. This bioink interacts with cell-surface receptors and ensures cell adhesion.


· CELLINK-SKIN. The fibrin in this bioink promotes angiogenesis, and is critical for functions like homeostasis and wound healing.


She mixed each bioink with the keratinocytes and fibroblasts, and then cultivated the mixtures for two weeks.


Step Three: Validating the model


To validate the model, Isabella tested the cultures for cellular activity. She used immunofluorescence to stain keratinocytes and collagen type 1 cells, and noted two observations:


    1. CELLINK-RGD maintains keratinocyte activity.



    2. CELLINK-SKIN yields superior fibroblast morphology.




How do I get started?

With these results in mind, Isabella listed a number of bioinks that are well suited for printing skin tissue models.




  • GelXA FIBRIN and GelXA SKIN. These are based on gelatin and xanthan gum. They can be crosslinked with UV light or an ionic solution.



This was the first skin printing project at CELLINK – but you can expect many more to come from this growing area of research. Happy printing!


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