Spiral-structured, nanofibrous, 3D scaffolds for bone tissue engineering.J Biomed Mater Res A 2010; 93(2):753-62JB
Polymeric nanofiber matrices have already been widely used in tissue engineering. However, the fabrication of nanofibers into complex three-dimensional (3D) structures is restricted due to current manufacturing techniques. To overcome this limitation, we have incorporated nanofibers onto spiral-structured 3D scaffolds made of poly (epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL). The spiral structure with open geometries, large surface areas, and porosity will be helpful for improving nutrient transport and cell penetration into the scaffolds, which are otherwise limited in conventional tissue-engineered scaffolds for large bone defects repair. To investigate the effect of structure and fiber coating on the performance of the scaffolds, three groups of scaffolds including cylindrical PCL scaffolds, spiral PCL scaffolds (without fiber coating), and spiral-structured fibrous PCL scaffolds (with fiber coating) have been prepared. The morphology, porosity, and mechanical properties of the scaffolds have been characterized. Furthermore, human osteoblast cells are seeded on these scaffolds, and the cell attachment, proliferation, differentiation, and mineralized matrix deposition on the scaffolds are evaluated. The results indicated that the spiral scaffolds possess porosities within the range of human trabecular bone and an appropriate pore structure for cell growth, and significantly lower compressive modulus and strength than cylindrical scaffolds. When compared with the cylindrical scaffolds, the spiral-structured scaffolds demonstrated enhanced cell proliferation, differentiation, and mineralization and allowed better cellular growth and penetration. The incorporation of nanofibers onto spiral scaffolds further enhanced cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation. These studies suggest that spiral-structured nanofibrous scaffolds may serve as promising alternatives for bone tissue engineering applications.