BackgroundOsteochondral interface regeneration is challenging for functional and integrated cartilage repair. Various layered scaffolds have been used to reconstruct the complex interface, yet the influence of the permeability of the layered structure on cartilage defect healing remains largely unknown.MethodsWe designed and fabricated a novel bilayered scaffold using articular cartilage extracellular matrix (ACECM) and hydroxyapatite (HAp), involving a porous, oriented upper layer and a dense, mineralised lower layer. By optimising the HAp/ACECM ratio, differing pore sizes and porosities were obtained simultaneously in the two layers. To evaluate the effects of permeability on cell behaviour, rabbit chondrocytes were seeded.ResultsMorphological observations demonstrated that a gradual interfacial region was formed with pore sizes varying from 128.2 ± 20.3 to 21.2 ± 3.1 μm. The permeability of the bilayered scaffold decreased with increasing compressive strain and HAp content. Mechanical tests indicated that the interface was stable to bearing compressive and shear loads. Accordingly, the optimum HAp/ACECM ratio (7 w/v%) in the layer to mimic native calcified cartilage was found. Chondrocytes could not penetrate the interface and resided only in the upper layer, where they showed high cellularity and abundant matrix deposition.ConclusionsOur findings suggest that a bilayered scaffold with low permeability, rather than complete isolation, represents a promising candidate for osteochondral interface tissue engineering.