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Design of porous scaffolds for cartilage tissue engineering using a three-dimensional fiber-deposition technique

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  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics


In this study, we present and characterize a fiber deposition technique for producing three-dimensional poly(ethylene glycol)-terephthalate—poly(butylene terephthalate) (PEGT/PBT) block co-polymer scaffolds with a 100% interconnecting pore network for engineering of articular cartilage. The technique allowed us to “design-in” desired scaffold characteristics layer by layer by accurately controlling the deposition of molten co-polymer fibers from a pressure-driven syringe onto a computer controlled x–y–z table. By varying PEGT/PBT composition, porosity and pore geometry, 3D-deposited scaffolds were produced with a range of mechanical properties. The equilibrium modulus and dynamic stiffness ranged between 0.05–2.5 and 0.16–4.33 MPa, respectively, and were similar to native articular cartilage explants (0.27 and 4.10 MPa, respectively). 3D-deposited scaffolds seeded with bovine articular chondrocytes supported a homogeneous cell distribution and subsequent cartilage-like tissue formation following in vitro culture as well as subcutaneous implantation in nude mice. This was demonstrated by the presence of articular cartilage extra cellular matrix constituents (glycosaminoglycan and type II collagen) throughout the interconnected pore volume. Similar results were achieved with respect to the attachment of expanded human articular chondrocytes, resulting in a homogenous distribution of viable cells after 5 days dynamic seeding. The processing methods and model scaffolds developed in this study provide a useful method to further investigate the effects of scaffold composition and pore architecture on articular cartilage tissue formation.

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