Fabrication of a three-dimensional bone marrow niche-like acute myeloid Leukemia disease model by an automated and controlled process using a robotic multicellular bioprinting system

Dana M. Alhattab, Ioannis Isaioglou, Salwa Alshehri, Zainab N. Khan, Hepi H. Susapto, Yanyan Li, Yara Marghani, Arwa A. Alghuneim, Rubén Díaz-Rúa, Sherin Abdelrahman, Shuroug AL-Bihani, Farid Ahmed, Raed I. Felimban, Heba Alkhatabi, Raed Alserihi, Malak Abedalthagafi, Al Shaibani AlFadel, Abdalla Awidi, Adeel Gulzar Chaudhary, Jasmeen MerzabanCharlotte A.E. Hauser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a hematological malignancy that remains a therapeutic challenge due to the high incidence of disease relapse. To better understand resistance mechanisms and identify novel therapies, robust preclinical models mimicking the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment are needed. This study aimed to achieve an automated fabrication process of a three-dimensional (3D) AML disease model that recapitulates the 3D spatial structure of the BM microenvironment and applies to drug screening and investigational studies. Methods: To build this model, we investigated a unique class of tetramer peptides with an innate ability to self-assemble into stable hydrogel. An automated robotic bioprinting process was established to fabricate a 3D BM (niche-like) multicellular AML disease model comprised of leukemia cells and the BM’s stromal and endothelial cellular fractions. In addition, monoculture and dual-culture models were also fabricated. Leukemia cell compatibility, functionalities (in vitro and in vivo), and drug assessment studies using our model were performed. In addition, RNAseq and gene expression analysis using TaqMan arrays were also performed on 3D cultured stromal cells and primary leukemia cells. Results: The selected peptide hydrogel formed a highly porous network of nanofibers with mechanical properties similar to the BM extracellular matrix. The robotic bioprinter and the novel quadruple coaxial nozzle enabled the automated fabrication of a 3D BM niche-like AML disease model with controlled deposition of multiple cell types into the model. This model supported the viability and growth of primary leukemic, endothelial, and stromal cells and recapitulated cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions. In addition, AML cells in our model possessed quiescent characteristics with improved chemoresistance attributes, resembling more the native conditions as indicated by our in vivo results. Moreover, the whole transcriptome data demonstrated the effect of 3D culture on enhancing BM niche cell characteristics. We identified molecular pathways upregulated in AML cells in our 3D model that might contribute to AML drug resistance and disease relapse. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the importance of developing 3D biomimicry models that closely recapitulate the in vivo conditions to gain deeper insights into drug resistance mechanisms and novel therapy development. These models can also improve personalized medicine by testing patient-specific treatments. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111
JournalBiomaterials Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • 3D bone marrow (niche-like) Disease model
  • 3D multicellular bioprinting
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia
  • Ultrashort self-assembling peptide scaffolds
  • Whole transcriptome analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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