Understanding the role of biofilms in acute recurrent tonsillitis through 3D bioprinting of a novel gelatin-PEGDA hydrogel

Denton, Oliver and Wan, Yifei and Beattie, Laura and Jack, Téa and McGoldrick, Preston and McAllister, Holly and Mullan, Cara and Douglas, Catriona M. and Shu, Wenmiao (2024) Understanding the role of biofilms in acute recurrent tonsillitis through 3D bioprinting of a novel gelatin-PEGDA hydrogel. Bioengineering, 11 (3). 202. ISSN 2306-5354 (https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering11030202)

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Acute recurrent tonsillitis is a chronic, biofilm-related infection that is a significant burden to patients and healthcare systems. It is often treated with repeated courses of antibiotics, which contributes to antimicrobial resistance. Studying biofilms is key to understanding this disease. In vitro modelling using 3D bioprinted hydrogels is a promising approach to achieve this. A novel gelatin-PEGDA pseudomonas fluorescens-laden bioink was developed and bioprinted in a 3D hydrogel construct fabricated using computer-aided design to mimic the tonsillar biofilm environment. The bioprinted constructs were cultured at 37 °C in lysogeny broth for 12 days. Bacterial growth was assessed by spectrophotometry. Cellular viability analysis was conducted using optical fluorescence microscopy (FDA/PI staining). A biocompatible 3D-printed bacteria-laden hydrogel construct was successfully fabricated. Bacterial growth was observed using optical fluorescence microscopy. A live/dead cellular-staining protocol demonstrated bacterial viability. Results obtained after the 12-day culture period showed higher bacterial growth in the 1% gelatin concentration construct compared to the 0% control. This study demonstrates the first use of a bacteria-laden gelatin-PEGDA hydrogel for biofabrication of a 3D-printed construct designed to model acute recurrent tonsillitis. Initiating a study with clinically relevant ex vivo tonsil bacteria will be an important next step in improving treatment of this impactful but understudied disease.