Bicomponent electrospinning to fabricate three-dimensional hydrogel-hybrid nanofibrous scaffolds with spatial fiber tortuosity.Biomed Microdevices 2014; 16(6):793-804BM
Electrospun fibrous mats have emerged as powerful tissue engineering scaffolds capable of providing highly effective and versatile physical guidance, mimicking the extracellular environment. However, electrospinning typically produces a sheet-like structure, which is a major limitation associated with current electrospinning technologies. To address this challenge, highly porous, volumetric hydrogel-hybrid fibrous scaffolds were fabricated by one Taylor cone-based side-by-side dual electrospinning of poly (ε-caprolactone) (PCL) and poly (vinyl pyrrolidone) (PVP), which possess distinct properties (i.e., hydrophobic and hydrogel properties, respectively). Immersion of the resulting scaffolds in water induced spatial tortuosity of the hydrogel PVP fibers while maintaining their aligned fibrous structures in parallel with the PCL fibers. The resulting conformational changes in the entire bicomponent fibers upon immersion in water led to volumetric expansion of the fibrous scaffolds. The spatial fiber tortuosity significantly increased the pore volumes of electrospun fibrous mats and dramatically promoted cellular infiltration into the scaffold interior both in vitro and in vivo. Harmonizing the flexible PCL fibers with the soft PVP-hydrogel layers produced highly ductile fibrous structures that could mechanically resist cellular contractile forces upon in vivo implantation. This facile dual electrospinning followed by the spatial fiber tortuosity for fabricating three-dimensional hydrogel-hybrid fibrous scaffolds will extend the use of electrospun fibers toward various tissue engineering applications.