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Impedance-Based Monitoring of Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Three-Dimensional Proliferation Using Aerosol Jet Printed Sensors: A Tissue Engineering Application.


One of the main hurdles to improving scaffolds for regenerative medicine is the development of non-invasive methods to monitor cell proliferation within three-dimensional environments. Recently, an electrical impedance-based approach has been identified as promising for three-dimensional proliferation assays. A low-cost impedance-based solution, easily integrable with multi-well plates, is here presented. Sensors were developed using biocompatible carbon-based ink on foldable polyimide substrates by means of a novel aerosol jet printing technique. The setup was tested to monitor the proliferation of human mesenchymal stromal cells into previously validated gelatin-chitosan hybrid hydrogel scaffolds. Reliability of the methodology was assessed comparing variations of the electrical impedance parameters with the outcomes of enzymatic proliferation assay. Results obtained showed a magnitude increase and a phase angle decrease at 4 kHz (maximum of 2.5 kΩ and -9 degrees) and an exponential increase of the modeled resistance and capacitance components due to the cell proliferation (maximum of 1.5 kΩ and 200 nF). A statistically significant relationship with enzymatic assay outcomes could be detected for both phase angle and electric model parameters. Overall, these findings support the potentiality of this non-invasive approach for continuous monitoring of scaffold-based cultures, being also promising in the perspective of optimizing the scaffold-culture system.

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