: Bioprinting offers new opportunities to obtain reliable 3D in vitro models of the liver for testing new drugs and studying pathophysiological mechanisms, thanks to its main feature in controlling the spatial deposition of cell-laden hydrogels. In this context, decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM)-based hydrogels have caught more and more attention over the last years because of their characteristic to closely mimic the tissue-specific microenvironment from a biological point of view. In this work, we describe a new concept of designing dECM-based hydrogels; in particular, we set up an alternative and more practical protocol to develop a hepatic lyophilized dECM (lyo-dECM) powder as an 'off-the-shelf' and free soluble product to be incorporated as a biomimetic component in the design of 3D-printable hybrid hydrogels. To this aim, the powder was first characterized in terms of cytocompatibility on human and porcine mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and the optimal powder concentration (i.e., 3.75 mg/ml) to use in the hydrogel formulation was identified. Moreover, its non-immunogenicity and capacity to reactivate the elastase enzyme potency was proved. Afterward, as a proof-of-concept, the powder was added to a sodium alginate/gelatin blend, and the so-defined multi-component hydrogel was studied from a rheological point of view, demonstrating that adding the lyo-dECM powder at the selected concentration did not alter the viscoelastic properties of the original material. Then, a printing assessment was performed with the support of computational simulations, which were useful to define a priori the hydrogel printing parameters as window of printability and its post-printing mechanical collapse. Finally, the proposed multi-component hydrogel was bioprinted with cells inside, and its post-printing cell viability for up to 7 days was successfully demonstrated.
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