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Cell-hydrogel based therapies offer great promise for wound healing. The specific aim of this study was to assess the viability of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells immobilized in atomized alginate capsules (3.5% (w/v) alginate, d = 225 µm ± 24.5 µm) post-extrusion through a three-dimensional (3D) printed methacrylate-based custom hollow microneedle assembly (circular array of 13 conical frusta) fabricated using stereolithography. With a jetting reliability of 80%, the solvent-sterilized device with a root mean square roughness of 158 nm at the extrusion nozzle tip (d = 325 μm) was operated at a flowrate of 12 mL/min. There was no significant difference between the viability of the sheared and control samples for extrusion times of 2 h (p = 0.14, α = 0.05) and 24 h (p = 0.5, α = 0.05) post-atomization. Factoring the increase in extrusion yield from 21.2% to 56.4% attributed to hydrogel bioerosion quantifiable by a loss in resilience from 5470 (J/m3) to 3250 (J/m3), there was no significant difference in percentage relative payload (p = 0.2628, α = 0.05) when extrusion occurred 24 h (12.2 ± 4.9%) when compared to 2 h (9.9 ± 2.8%) post-atomization. Results from this paper highlight the feasibility of encapsulated cell extrusion, specifically protection from shear, through a hollow microneedle assembly reported for the first time in literature.


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