Carbohydrate polymers

Three-dimensional electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL)/alginate hybrid composite scaffolds.

PMID 25263884


Micro/nanofibrous scaffolds have been used widely in biomedical applications because the micro/nano-scale fibres resemble natural extracellular matrix and the high surface-to-volume ratio encourages cellular activities (attachment and proliferation). However, poor mechanical properties, low controllability of various shapes and difficulties in obtaining controllable pore structure have been obstacles to their use in hard-tissue regeneration. To overcome these shortcomings, we suggest a new composite system, which uses a combination method of wet electrospinning, rapid prototyping and a physical punching process. Using the process, we obtained polycaprolactone (PCL)/alginate composite scaffolds, consisting of electrospun PCL/alginate fibres and micro-sized PCL struts, with mean pore sizes of 821 ± 55 μm. To show the feasibility of the scaffolds for hard-tissue regeneration, the scaffolds were assessed not only for physical properties, including hydrophilicity, water absorption, and tensile and compressive strength, but also in vitro cellular responses (cell viability and proliferation) and osteogenic differentiation (alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, and mineralisation) by culturing with pre-osteoblasts (MC3T3-E1 cells). With the reinforcing micro-sized PCL struts, the elastic modulus of the PCL/alginate scaffold was significantly improved versus a pure PCL scaffold. Additionally, due to the alginate component in the fibrous scaffold, they showed significantly enhanced hydrophilic behaviour, water absorption (∼8-fold) and significant biological activities (∼1.6-fold for cell viability at 7 days, ∼2.3-fold for ALP activity at 14 days and ∼6.4-fold for calcium mineralisation at 14 days) compared with those of a pure PCL fibrous scaffold.