AccScience Publishing / IJB / Volume 9 / Issue 5 / DOI: 10.18063/ijb.691

Tissue-engineered edible bird’s nests (TeeBN)

Yu Liu1† Yangyang Liu1† Jiayue Liu1 Yuwei Li1 Jian-Bo Wan1 Yiming Niu1 Lei Dong2 Li Du3 Chunming Wang1,4*
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1 State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Institute of Chinese Medicine & Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Health Science, University of Macau, Taipa, Macau SAR
2 State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210093, China
3 Faculty of Law, University of Macau, Taipa, Macau SAR
4 Zhuhai UM Science & Technology Research Institute (ZUMRI), University of Macau, Hengqin, Guangdong, China
© Invalid date by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( )

Edible bird’s nests (EBN)—the nests of swiftlet birds harvested from the wild— are high-end healthcare food in East Asia, while their excessive harvesting poses increasing ecological, environmental, and food safety concerns. Here, we report for the first time a tissue-engineering (TE) approach for fabricating EBNs substitutes by integrating the technologies of three-dimensional (3D) printing and live cell culture. The engineered products, tissue-engineered edible bird’s nests (TeeBN), comprise two layers. The first is a feeding layer that encapsulates epithelial cells in 3D-printed biocompatible gelation scaffolds. These cells secrete bioactive ingredients, e.g., sialic acid and epidermal growth factors (EGF), recapitulating the natural production of these substances by birds. The second is a receiving layer, consisting of foodgrade natural polymers, e.g., polysaccharides, which mimics the building blocks of natural EBNs while biologically stabilizing the factors released from the feeding layer. In vitro characterizations demonstrate that the feeding layer facilitates 3D cell growth and functions, and the receiving layer (as the end product) contains the necessary nutrients expected from natural EBNs—while without harmful substances commonly detected in natural EBNs. Further, in vivo metabolomics studies in mice indicate that TeeBN showed a similar profile of serum metabolites as natural EBN, reflecting comparable nutritional effects. In summary, we innovatively developed a tissue engineering-based substitute for EBNs with comparable metabolic functions and minimized safety risks, opening a new avenue for producing delicacy food from laboratorial cell culture with 3D printing technology.

Tissue engineering
3D printing
Cellular agriculture
Food technology
Edible bird’s nests

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International Journal of Bioprinting, Electronic ISSN: 2424-8002 Print ISSN: 2424-7723, Published by AccScience Publishing