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1.  Fabrication of Porous Ultra-Short Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Nanocomposite Scaffolds for Bone Tissue Engineering 
Biomaterials  2007;28(28):4078-4090.
We investigated the fabrication of highly porous scaffolds made of three different materials [poly(propylene fumarate (PPF) polymer, an ultra-short single-walled carbon nanotube (US-tube) nanocomposite, and a dodecylated US-tube (F-US-tube) nanocomposite] in order to evaluate the effects of material composition and porosity on scaffold pore structure, mechanical properties, and marrow stromal cell culture. All scaffolds were produced by a thermal-crosslinking particulate-leaching technique at specific porogen contents of 75, 80, 85, and 90 vol%. Scanning electron microcopy, microcomputed tomography, and mercury intrusion porosimetry were used to analyze the pore structures of scaffolds. The porogen content was found to dictate the porosity of scaffolds. There was no significant difference in porosity, pore size, and interconnectivity among the different materials for the same porogen fraction. Nearly 100% of the pore volume was interconnected through 20 μm or larger connections for all scaffolds. While interconnectivity through larger connections improved with higher porosity, compressive mechanical properties of scaffolds declined at the same time. However, the compressive modulus, offset yield strength, and compressive strength of F-US-tube nanocomposites were higher than or similar to the corresponding properties for the PPF polymer and US-tube nanocomposites for all the porosities examined. As for in vitro osteoconductivity, marrow stromal cells demonstrated equally good cell attachment and proliferation on all scaffolds made of different materials at each porosity. These results indicate that functionalized ultra-short single-walled carbon nanotube nanocomposite scaffolds with tunable porosity and mechanical properties hold great promise for bone tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC3163100  PMID: 17576009
2.  Fabrication of Porous Scaffolds with a Controllable Microstructure and Mechanical Properties by Porogen Fusion Technique 
Macroporous scaffolds with controllable pore structure and mechanical properties were fabricated by a porogen fusion technique. Biodegradable material poly (d, l-lactide) (PDLLA) was used as the scaffold matrix. The effects of porogen size, PDLLA concentration and hydroxyapatite (HA) content on the scaffold morphology, porosity and mechanical properties were investigated. High porosity (90% and above) and highly interconnected structures were easily obtained and the pore size could be adjusted by varying the porogen size. With the increasing porogen size and PDLLA concentration, the porosity of scaffolds decreases, while its mechanical properties increase. The introduction of HA greatly increases the impact on pore structure, mechanical properties and water absorption ability of scaffolds, while it has comparatively little influence on its porosity under low HA contents. These results show that by adjusting processing parameters, scaffolds could afford a controllable pore size, exhibit suitable pore structure and high porosity, as well as good mechanical properties, and may serve as an excellent substrate for bone tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC3083679  PMID: 21541032
tissue engineering; composite scaffolds; mechanical property; porogen fusion technique
3.  Fabrication of three-dimensional porous cell-laden hydrogel for tissue engineering 
Biofabrication  2010;2(3):035003.
For tissue engineering applications, scaffolds should be porous to enable rapid nutrient and oxygen transfer while providing a three-dimensional (3D) microenvironment for the encapsulated cells. This dual characteristic can be achieved by fabrication of porous hydrogels that contain encapsulated cells. In this work, we developed a simple method that allows cell encapsulation and pore generation inside alginate hydrogels simultaneously. Gelatin beads of 150–300 μm diameter were used as a sacrificial porogen for generating pores within cell-laden hydrogels. Gelation of gelatin at low temperature (4 °C) was used to form beads without chemical crosslinking and their subsequent dissolution after cell encapsulation led to generation of pores within cell-laden hydrogels. The pore size and porosity of the scaffolds were controlled by the gelatin bead size and their volume ratio, respectively. Fabricated hydrogels were characterized for their internal microarchitecture, mechanical properties and permeability. Hydrogels exhibited a high degree of porosity with increasing gelatin bead content in contrast to nonporous alginate hydrogel. Furthermore, permeability increased by two to three orders while compressive modulus decreased with increasing porosity of the scaffolds. Application of these scaffolds for tissue engineering was tested by encapsulation of hepatocarcinoma cell line (HepG2). All the scaffolds showed similar cell viability; however, cell proliferation was enhanced under porous conditions. Furthermore, porous alginate hydrogels resulted in formation of larger spheroids and higher albumin secretion compared to nonporous conditions. These data suggest that porous alginate hydrogels may have provided a better environment for cell proliferation and albumin production. This may be due to the enhanced mass transfer of nutrients, oxygen and waste removal, which is potentially beneficial for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.
PMCID: PMC3282162  PMID: 20823504
4.  Preparation of Cylinder-Shaped Porous Sponges of Poly(L-lactic acid), Poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid), and Poly(ε-caprolactone) 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:106082.
Design of mechanical skeletons of biodegradable synthetic polymers such as poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA), poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), and poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) is important in the construction of the hybrid scaffolds of biodegradable synthetic polymers and naturally derived polymers such as collagen. In this study, cylinder-shaped PLLA, PLGA, and PCL sponges were prepared by the porogen leaching method using a cylinder model. The effects of polymer type, polymer fraction, cylinder height, pore size, and porosity on the mechanical properties of the cylinder-shape sponges were investigated. SEM observation showed that these cylinder-shaped sponges had evenly distributed bulk pore structures and the wall surfaces were less porous with a smaller pore size than the wall bulk pore structures. The porosity and pore size of the sponges could be controlled by the ratio and size of the porogen materials. The PLGA sponges showed superior mechanical properties than those of the PLLA and PCL sponges. Higher porosity resulted in an inferior mechanical strength. The pore size and sponge height also affected the mechanical properties. The results indicate that cylinder-shaped sponges can be tethered by choosing the appropriate polymers, size and ratio of porogen materials and dimension of sponges based on the purpose of the application.
PMCID: PMC3955664  PMID: 24719843
5.  Physical and degradation properties of PLGA scaffolds fabricated by salt fusion technique 
Journal of Biomedical Research  2013;27(4):318-325.
Tissue engineering scaffolds require a controlled pore size and interconnected pore structures to support the host tissue growth. In the present study, three dimensional (3D) hybrid scaffolds of poly lactic acid (PLA) and poly glycolic acid (PGA) were fabricated using solvent casting/particulate leaching. In this case, partially fused NaCl particles were used as porogen (200-300µ) to improve the overall porosity (≥90%) and internal texture of scaffolds. Differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) analysis of these porous scaffolds revealed a gradual reduction in glass transition temperature (Tg) (from 48°C to 42.5°C) with increase in hydrophilic PGA content. The potential applications of these scaffolds as implants were further tested for their biocompatibility and biodegradability in four simulated body fluid (SBF) types in vitro. Whereas, simulated body fluid (SBF) Type1 with the optimal amount of HCO3− ions was found to be more appropriate and sensible for testing the bioactivity of scaffolds. Among three combinations of polymer scaffolds, sample B with a ratio of 75:25 of PLA: PGA showed greater stability in body fluids (pH 7.2) with an optimum degradation rate (9% to 12% approx). X-ray diffractogram also confirmed a thin layer of hydroxyapatite deposition over sample B with all SBF types in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3721041  PMID: 23885272
poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) scaffolds; simulated body fluid; solvent immersion; polymer degradation; hydroxyapatite
6.  Synthesis, Material Properties and Biocompatibility of a Novel Self-Crosslinkable Poly(caprolactone fumarate) as an Injectable Tissue Engineering Scaffold 
Biomacromolecules  2005;6(5):2503-2511.
A novel self-crosslinkable and biodegradable macromer poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) has been developed for guided bone regeneration. This macromer is a copolymer of fumaryl chloride, which contains double bonds for in-situ crosslinking, and poly(ε-caprolactone) that has a flexible chain to facilitate self-crosslinkability. PCLF was characterized with Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and gel permeation chromatography (GPC). Porous scaffolds were fabricated with sodium chloride particles as the porogen and a chemical initiation system. The PCLF scaffolds were characterized with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). The cytotoxicity and in vivo biocompatibility of PCLF were also assessed. Our results suggest that this novel copolymer, PCLF, is an injectable, self-crosslinkable, and biocompatible macromer that may be potentially used as a scaffold for tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC2530909  PMID: 16153086
7.  The Use of Zein and Shuanghuangbu for Periodontal Tissue Engineering 
Tissue engineering is a promising area with a broad range of applications in the fields of regenerative medicine and human health. The emergence of periodontal tissue engineering for clinical treatment of periodontal disease has opened a new therapeutic avenue. The choice of scaffold is crucial. This study was conducted to prepare zein scaffold and explore the suitability of zein and Shuanghuangbu for periodontal tissue engineering.
A zein scaffold was made using the solvent casting/particulate leaching method with sodium chloride (NaCl) particles as the porogen. The physical properties of the zein scaffold were evaluated by observing its shape and determining its pore structure and porosity. Cytotoxicity testing of the scaffold was carried out via in vitro cell culture experiments, including a liquid extraction experiment and the direct contact assay. Also, the Chinese medicine Shuanghuangbu, as a growth factor, was diluted by scaffold extract into different concentrations. This Shuanghuangbu-scaffold extract was then added to periodontal ligament cells (PDLCs) in order to determine its effect on cell proliferation.
The zein scaffold displayed a sponge-like structure with a high porosity and sufficient thickness. The porosity and pore size of the zein scaffold can be controlled by changing the porogen particles dosage and size. The porosity was up to 64.1%–78.0%. The pores were well-distributed, interconnected, and porous. The toxicity of the zein scaffold was graded as 0–1. Furthermore, PDLCs displayed full stretching and vigorous growth under scanning electronic microscope (SEM). Shuanghuangbu-scaffold extract could reinforce proliferation activity of PDLCs compared to the control group, especially at 100 μg·mL−1 (P<0.01).
A zein scaffold with high porosity, open pore wall structure, and good biocompatibility is conducive to the growth of PDLCs. Zein could be used as scaffold to repair periodontal tissue defects. Also, Shuanghuangbu-scaffold extract can enhance the proliferation activity of PDLCs. Altogether, these findings provide the basis for in vivo testing on animals.
PMCID: PMC3475600  PMID: 21125792
zein; periodontal tissue engineering; scaffold; periodontal ligament cells; Shuanghuangbu
8.  A Degradable, Thermo-sensitive Poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide)-Based Scaffold with Controlled Porosity for Tissue Engineering Applications 
Biomacromolecules  2010;11(10):2583-2592.
We have developed a thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide)-based scaffold with degradability and controlled porosity. Biodegradable poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) hydrogels were synthesized by photo-copolymerization of N-isopropylacrylamide with 2-methylene-1,3-dioxepane and polycaprolactone dimethacrylate. The hydrogels’ phase transition temperature, swelling and viscoelastic properties, as well as hydrolytic degradability at 25 and 37°C, were explored. A sphere-templating technique was applied to fabricate hydrogel scaffolds with controllable pore size and a highly interconnected porous structure. The scaffold pore diameter change as a function of temperature was evaluated and, as expected, pores decreased in diameter when the temperature was raised to 37°C. 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) test results suggested neither the scaffolds nor their degradation products were cytotoxic to NIH3T3 cells. Scaffolds with 55±5 μm pore diameter were loaded with NIH3T3 cells and then were warmed to 37°C entrapping cells in pores approximately 39 μm in diameter, a size range we have found to be optimal for angiogenesis and biointegration. Cells showed uniform infiltration and an elongated morphology after 7 days of culture. Due to the controlled monodisperse pore diameter, highly interconnected architecture, fully degradable chemistry and thermoresponsive properties, the polyNIPAM-based scaffolds developed here are attractive for applications in tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC2952680  PMID: 20836521
poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide); thermoresponsive polymer; hydrogel; degradable polymer; tissue engineering; scaffold
9.  Nano-structured polymer scaffolds for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine 
The structural features of tissue engineering scaffolds affect cell response and must be engineered to support cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation. The scaffold acts as an interim synthetic extracellular matrix (ECM) that cells interact prior to forming new tissue. In this review, bone tissue engineering is used as the primary example because of our group’s focus and for the sake of brevity. We focus on nano-fibrous scaffolds and the incorporation of other components including other nanofeatures into the scaffold structure. Since the ECM is comprised in large part of collagen fibers, between 50–500 nm in diameter, well-designed nano-fibrous scaffolds mimic this structure. Our group has developed a novel thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS) process in which a solution of biodegradable polymer is cast into a porous scaffold, resulting in a nano-fibrous pore-wall structure. These nano-scale fibers have a diameter (50–500 nm) comparable to those collagen fibers found in the ECM. This process can then be combined with a porogen leaching technique, also developed by our group, to engineer an interconnected pore structure that promotes cell migration and tissue ingrowth in three dimensions. To improve upon efforts to incorporate a ceramic component into polymer scaffolds by mixing, our group has also developed a technique where apatite crystals are grown onto biodegradable polymer scaffolds by soaking them in simulated body fluid (SBF). By changing the polymer used, the concentration of ions in the SBF and by varying the treatment time, the size and distribution of these crystals is varied. Work is currently being done to improve the distribution of these crystals throughout three-dimensional scaffolds and to create nano-scale apatite deposits that better mimic those found in the ECM. In both nano-fibrous and composite scaffolds, cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation improved when compared to control scaffolds. Additionally, composite scaffolds showed a decrease in incidence of apoptosis when compared to polymer control in bone tissue engineering. Nanoparticles have been integrated into the nano-structured scaffolds to deliver biologically active molecules such as growth and differentiation factors to regulate cell behavior for optimal tissue regeneration.
PMCID: PMC2800311  PMID: 20049793
Biomimetic Materials; Cells; Nanofibers; Nanoparticles; Tissue Scaffolding
10.  The influence of stereolithographic scaffold architecture and composition on osteogenic signal expression with rat bone marrow stromal cells 
Biomaterials  2011;32(15):3750-3763.
Scaffold design parameters, especially physical construction factors such as mechanical stiffness of substrate materials, pore size of 3D porous scaffolds, and channel geometry, are known to influence the osteogenic signal expression and subsequent differentiation of a transplanted cell population. In this study of photocrosslinked poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) and diethyl fumarate (DEF) scaffolds, the effect of DEF incorporation ratio and pore size on the osteogenic signal expression of rat bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) was investigated. Results demonstrated that DEF concentrations and pore sizes that led to increased scaffold mechanical stiffness also upregulated osteogenic signal expression, including bone morphogenic protein-2 (BMP-2), fibroblast growth factors-2 (FGF-2), transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and Runx2 transcriptional factor. Similar scaffold fabrication parameters supported rapid BMSC osteoblastic differentiation, as demonstrated by increased alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and osteocalcin expression. When scaffolds with random architecture, fabricated by porogen leaching, were compared to those with controlled architecture, fabricated by stereolithography (SLA), results showed that SLA scaffolds with the highly permeable and porous channels also have significantly higher expression of FGF-2, TGF-β1, and VEGF. Subsequent ALP expression and osteopontin secretion were also significantly increased in SLA scaffolds. Based upon these results, we conclude that scaffold properties provided by additive manufacturing techniques such as SLA fabrication, particularly increased mechanical stiffness and high permeability, may stimulate dramatic BMSC responses that promote rapid bone tissue regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3075725  PMID: 21396709
Osteogenic signal expression; Stereolithography; Stiffness; Pore geometry; Bone marrow stromal cells; Poly(propylene fumarate)
11.  Evaluation of Osteoconductive Scaffolds in the Canine Femoral Multi-Defect Model 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2013;19(5-6):634-648.
Treatment of large segmental bone defects remains an unsolved clinical challenge, despite a wide array of existing bone graft materials. This project was designed to rapidly assess and compare promising biodegradable osteoconductive scaffolds for use in the systematic development of new bone regeneration methodologies that combine scaffolds, sources of osteogenic cells, and bioactive scaffold modifications. Promising biomaterials and scaffold fabrication methods were identified in laboratories at Rutgers, MIT, Integra Life Sciences, and Mayo Clinic. Scaffolds were fabricated from various materials, including poly(L-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA), poly(L-lactide-co-ɛ-caprolactone) (PLCL), tyrosine-derived polycarbonate (TyrPC), and poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF). Highly porous three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds were fabricated by 3D printing, laser stereolithography, or solvent casting followed by porogen leaching. The canine femoral multi-defect model was used to systematically compare scaffold performance and enable selection of the most promising substrate(s) on which to add cell sourcing options and bioactive surface modifications. Mineralized cancellous allograft (MCA) was used to provide a comparative reference to the current clinical standard for osteoconductive scaffolds. Percent bone volume within the defect was assessed 4 weeks after implantation using both MicroCT and limited histomorphometry. Bone formed at the periphery of all scaffolds with varying levels of radial ingrowth. MCA produced a rapid and advanced stage of bone formation and remodeling throughout the defect in 4 weeks, greatly exceeding the performance of all polymer scaffolds. Two scaffold constructs, TyrPCPL/TCP and PPF4SLA/HAPLGA Dip, proved to be significantly better than alternative PLGA and PLCL scaffolds, justifying further development. MCA remains the current standard for osteoconductive scaffolds.
PMCID: PMC3568967  PMID: 23215980
12.  Living Bacterial Sacrificial Porogens to Engineer Decellularized Porous Scaffolds 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19344.
Decellularization and cellularization of organs have emerged as disruptive methods in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Porous hydrogel scaffolds have widespread applications in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and drug discovery as viable tissue mimics. However, the existing hydrogel fabrication techniques suffer from limited control over pore interconnectivity, density and size, which leads to inefficient nutrient and oxygen transport to cells embedded in the scaffolds. Here, we demonstrated an innovative approach to develop a new platform for tissue engineered constructs using live bacteria as sacrificial porogens. E.coli were patterned and cultured in an interconnected three-dimensional (3D) hydrogel network. The growing bacteria created interconnected micropores and microchannels. Then, the scafold was decellularized, and bacteria were eliminated from the scaffold through lysing and washing steps. This 3D porous network method combined with bioprinting has the potential to be broadly applicable and compatible with tissue specific applications allowing seeding of stem cells and other cell types.
PMCID: PMC3084297  PMID: 21552485
13.  Peptide-Modified Zwitterionic Porous Hydrogels for Endothelial Cell and Vascular Engineering 
BioResearch Open Access  2014;3(6):297-310.
Hydrogels allow control of gel composition and mechanics, and permit incorporation of cells and a wide variety of molecules from nanoparticles to micromolecules. Peptide-linked hydrogels should tune the basic polymer into a more bioactive template to influence cellular activities. In this study, we first introduced the generation of 2D poly-(sulfobetaine methacrylate [SBMA]) hydrogel surfaces. By incorporating with functional peptide RGD and vascular endothelial growth factor-mimicking peptide KLTWQELYQLKYKG (QK) peptides, endothelial cells attached to the surface well and proliferated in a short-term culturing. However, the mechanical property, which plays a crucial role directing the cellular functions and supporting the structures, decreased when peptides graft onto hydrogels. Manipulating the mechanical property was thus necessary, and the most related factor was the monomer concentration. From our results, the higher amount of SBMA caused greater stiffness in hydrogels. Following the 2D surface studies, we fabricated 3D porous hydrogels for cell scaffolds by several methods. The salt/particle leaching method showed a more reliable way than gas-foaming method to fabricate homogeneous and open-interconnected pores within the hydrogel. Using the salt/particle leaching method, we can control the pore size before leaching. Morphology of endothelial cells within scaffolds was also investigated by scanning electron microscopy, and histological analysis was conducted in vitro and in vivo to test the biocompatibility of SB hydrogel and its potential as a therapeutic reagent for ischemic tissue repair in mice.
PMCID: PMC4245844  PMID: 25469315
endothelial cell; porous hydrogels; salt/particle leaching; tissue engineering
14.  Biomimetic Nanofibrous Gelatin/Apatite Composite Scaffolds for Bone Tissue Engineering 
Biomaterials  2009;30(12):2252-2258.
Mimicking certain features (e.g. nanoscale topography and biological cues) of natural extracellular matrix (ECM) is advantageous for the successful regeneration of damaged tissue. In this study, nanofibrous gelatin/apatite (NF-gelatin/apatite) composite scaffolds have been fabricated to mimic both the physical architecture and chemical composition of natural bone ECM. A thermally induced phase separation (TIPS) technique was developed to prepare nanofibrous gelatin (NF-gelatin) matrix. The NF-gelatin matrix mimicked natural collagen fibers and had an average fiber diameter of about 150 nm. By integrating the TIPS method with porogen leaching, three-dimensional NF-gelatin scaffolds with well-defined macropores were fabricated. In comparison to Gelfoam® (a commercial gelatin foam) with similar pore size and porosity, the NF-gelatin scaffolds exhibited a much higher surface area and mechanical strength. The surface area and compressive modulus of NF-gelatin scaffolds were more than 700 times and 10 times higher than that of Gelfoam®, respectively. The NF-gelatin scaffolds also showed excellent biocompatibility and mechanical stability. To further enhance pre-osteoblast cell differentiation as well as improving mechanical strength, bone-like apatite particles (< 2 μm) were incorporated onto the surface of NF-gelatin scaffolds via a simulated body fluid (SBF) incubation process. The NF-gelatin/apatite scaffolds showed significantly higher mechanical strength than NF-gelatin scaffolds 5 days after SBF treatment. Furthermore, the incorporated apatite in the NF-gelatin/apatite composite scaffold enhanced the ostgeogenic differentiation. The expression of BSP and OCN in the osteoblast-(NF-gelatin/apatite composite) constructs was about 5 times and 2 times higher than in the osteoblast-(NF-gelatin) constructs 4 week after cell culture. The biomimetic NF-gelatin/apatite scaffolds are, therefore, excellent for bone tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC2679864  PMID: 19152974
15.  A Novel Porous Scaffold Fabrication Technique for Epithelial and Endothelial Tissue Engineering 
Porous scaffolds have the ability to minimize transport barriers for both two- (2D) and three-dimensional tissue engineering. However, current porous scaffolds may be non-ideal for 2D tissues such as epithelium due to inherent fabrication-based characteristics. While 2D tissues require porosity to support molecular transport, pores must be small enough to prevent cell migration into the scaffold in order to avoid non-epithelial tissue architecture and compromised function. Though electrospun meshes are the most popular porous scaffolds used today, their heterogeneous pore size and intense topography may be poorly-suited for epithelium. Porous scaffolds produced using other methods have similar unavoidable limitations, frequently involving insufficient pore resolution and control, which make them incompatible with 2D tissues. In addition, many of these techniques require an entirely new round of process development in order to change material or pore size. Herein we describe “pore casting,” a fabrication method that produces flat scaffolds with deterministic pore shape, size, and location that can be easily altered to accommodate new materials or pore dimensions. As proof-of-concept, pore-cast poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) scaffolds were fabricated and compared to electrospun PCL in vitro using canine kidney epithelium, human colon epithelium, and human umbilical vein endothelium. All cell types demonstrated improved morphology and function on pore-cast scaffolds, likely due to reduced topography and universally small pore size. These results suggest that pore casting is an attractive option for creating 2D tissue engineering scaffolds, especially when the application may benefit from well-controlled pore size or architecture.
PMCID: PMC4086292  PMID: 23625319
16.  Fibrin-Loaded Porous Poly(Ethylene Glycol) Hydrogels as Scaffold Materials for Vascularized Tissue Formation 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2012;19(1-2):224-234.
Vascular network formation within biomaterial scaffolds is essential for the generation of properly functioning engineered tissues. In this study, a method is described for generating composite hydrogels in which porous poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels serve as scaffolds for mechanical and structural support, and fibrin is loaded within the pores to induce vascularized tissue formation. Porous PEG hydrogels were generated by a salt leaching technique with 100–150-μm pore size and thrombin (Tb) preloaded within the scaffold. Fibrinogen (Fg) was loaded into pores with varying concentrations and polymerized into fibrin due to the presence of Tb, with loading efficiencies ranging from 79.9% to 82.4%. Fibrin was distributed throughout the entire porous hydrogels, lasted for greater than 20 days, and increased hydrogel mechanical stiffness. A rodent subcutaneous implant model was used to evaluate the influence of fibrin loading on in vivo response. At weeks 1, 2, and 3, all hydrogels had significant tissue invasion, but no difference in the depth of invasion was found with the Fg concentration. Hydrogels with fibrin loading induced more vascularization, with a significantly higher vascular density at 20 mg/mL (week 1) and 40 mg/mL (weeks 2 and 3) Fg concentration compared to hydrogels without fibrin. In conclusion, we have developed a composite hydrogel that supports rapid vascularized tissue ingrowth, and thus holds great potential for tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC3530947  PMID: 23003671
17.  Fabrication of Electrospun Poly(L-Lactide-co-ɛ-Caprolactone)/Collagen Nanoyarn Network as a Novel, Three-Dimensional, Macroporous, Aligned Scaffold for Tendon Tissue Engineering 
Tissue Engineering. Part C, Methods  2013;19(12):925-936.
Tissue engineering techniques using novel scaffolding materials offer potential alternatives for managing tendon disorders. An ideal tendon tissue engineered scaffold should mimic the three-dimensional (3D) structure of the natural extracellular matrix (ECM) of the native tendon. Here, we propose a novel electrospun nanoyarn network that is morphologically and structurally similar to the ECM of native tendon tissues. The nanoyarn, random nanofiber, and aligned nanofiber scaffolds of a synthetic biodegradable polymer, poly(l-lactide-co-ɛ-caprolactone) [P(LLA-CL)], and natural collagen I complex were fabricated using electrospinning. These scaffolds were characterized in terms of fiber morphology, pore size, porosity, and chemical and mechanical properties for the purpose of culturing tendon cells (TCs) for tendon tissue engineering. The results indicated a fiber diameter of 632±81 nm for the random nanofiber scaffold, 643±97 nm for the aligned nanofiber scaffold, and 641±68 nm for the nanoyarn scaffold. The yarn in the nanoyarn scaffold was twisted by many nanofibers similar to the structure and inherent nanoscale organization of tendons, indicating an increase in the diameter of 9.51±3.62 μm. The nanoyarn scaffold also contained 3D aligned microstructures with large interconnected pores and high porosity. Fourier transform infrared analyses revealed the presence of collagen in the three scaffolds. The mechanical properties of the sample scaffolds indicated that the scaffolds had desirable mechanical properties for tissue regeneration. Further, the results revealed that TC proliferation and infiltration, and the expression of tendon-related ECM genes, were significantly enhanced on the nanoyarn scaffold compared with that on the random nanofiber and aligned nanofiber scaffolds. This study demonstrates that electrospun P(LLA-CL)/collagen nanoyarn is a novel, 3D, macroporous, aligned scaffold that has potential application in tendon tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC3833310  PMID: 23557537
18.  Phase separation, pore structure, and properties of nanofibrous gelatin scaffolds 
Biomaterials  2009;30(25):4094-4103.
The development of three-dimensional (3D) biomimetic scaffolds which provide an optimal environment for cells adhesion, proliferation and differentiation, and guide new tissue formation has been one of the major goals in tissue engineering. In this work, a processing technique has been developed to create 3D nanofibrous gelatin (NF-gelatin) scaffolds, which mimic both the physical architecture and the chemical composition of natural collagen. Gelatin matrices with nanofibrous architecture were first created by using a thermally induced phase separation (TIPS) technique. Macroporous NF-gelatin scaffolds were fabricated by combining the TIPS technique with a porogen-leaching process. The processing parameters were systematically investigated in relation to the fiber diameter, fiber length, surface area, porosity, pore size, interpore connectivity, pore wall architecture, and mechanical properties of the NF-gelatin scaffolds. The resulting NF-gelatin scaffolds possess high surface areas (>32 m2/g), high porosities (>96%), well-connected macropores, and nanofibrous pore wall structures. The technique advantageously controls macropore shape and size by paraffin spheres, interpore connectivity by assembly conditions (time and temperature of heat treatment), pore wall morphology by phase separation and post-treatment parameters, and mechanical properties by polymer concentration and crosslinking density. Compared to commercial gelatin foam (Gelfoam®), the NF-gelatin scaffold showed much better dimensional stability in a tissue culture environment. The NF-gelatin scaffolds, therefore, are excellent scaffolds for tissue engineering.
PMCID: PMC2744837  PMID: 19481080
19.  Polymer scaffolds for small-diameter vascular tissue engineering 
Advanced functional materials  2010;20(17):2833-2841.
To better engineer small-diameter blood vessels, a few types of novel scaffolds were fabricated from biodegradable poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) by means of thermally induced phase separation (TIPS) techniques. By utilizing the differences in thermal conductivities of the mold materials, the scaffolds with oriented gradient microtubular structures in axial or radial direction were created using benzene as the solvent. The porosity, tubular size, and the orientation direction of the microtubules can be controlled by polymer concentration, TIPS temperature, and materials of different thermal conductivities. The gradient microtubular structure was intended to facilitate cell seeding and mass transfer for cell growth and function. We also developed nanofibrous scaffolds with oriented and interconnected micro-tubular pore network by a one-step TIPS method using benzene/tetrahydrofuran mixture as the solvent without using porogen materials. The structural features of such scaffolds can be conveniently adjusted by varying the solvent ratio, phase separation temperature and polymer concentration to mimic the nanofibrous feature of extracellular matrix. These scaffolds were fabricated for the tissue engineering of small-diameter blood vessels by utilizing their advantageous structural features to facilitate blood vessel regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3911792  PMID: 24501590
blood vessel scaffold; PLLA; thermally induced phase separation; orientation; nanofiber
20.  Comparison of polymer scaffolds in rat spinal cord: A step toward quantitative assessment of combinatorial approaches to spinal cord repair 
Biomaterials  2011;32(32):8077-8086.
The transected rat thoracic (T9/10) spinal cord model is a platform for quantitatively compa0ring biodegradable polymer scaffolds. Schwann cell-loaded scaffolds constructed from poly (lactic co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF), oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) hydrogel or positively charged OPF (OPF+) hydrogel were implanted into the model. We demonstrated that the mechanical properties (3-point bending and stiffness) of OPF and OPF+ hydrogels closely resembled rat spinal cord. After one month, tissues were harvested and analyzed by morphometry of neurofilament-stained sections at rostral, midlevel, and caudal scaffold. All polymers supported axonal growth. Significantly higher numbers of axons were found in PCLF (P < 0.01) and OPF+ (P < 0.05) groups, compared to that of the PLGA group. OPF+ polymers showed more centrally distributed axonal regeneration within the channels while other polymers (PLGA, PCLF and OPF) tended to show more evenly dispersed axons within the channels. The centralized distribution was associated with significantly more axons regenerating (P < 0.05). Volume of scar and cyst rostral and caudal to the implanted scaffold was measured and compared. There were significantly smaller cyst volumes in PLGA compared to PCLF groups. The model provides a quantitative basis for assessing individual and combined tissue engineering strategies.
PMCID: PMC3163757  PMID: 21803415
OPF; PLGA; PCLF; axon regeneration; spinal cord injury; Schwann cell
21.  Cell-Laden Poly(ɛ-caprolactone)/Alginate Hybrid Scaffolds Fabricated by an Aerosol Cross-Linking Process for Obtaining Homogeneous Cell Distribution: Fabrication, Seeding Efficiency, and Cell Proliferation and Distribution 
Tissue Engineering. Part C, Methods  2013;19(10):784-793.
Generally, solid-freeform fabricated scaffolds show a controllable pore structure (pore size, porosity, pore connectivity, and permeability) and mechanical properties by using computer-aided techniques. Although the scaffolds can provide repeated and appropriate pore structures for tissue regeneration, they have a low biological activity, such as low cell-seeding efficiency and nonuniform cell density in the scaffold interior after a long culture period, due to a large pore size and completely open pores. Here we fabricated three different poly(ɛ-caprolactone) (PCL)/alginate scaffolds: (1) a rapid prototyped porous PCL scaffold coated with an alginate, (2) the same PCL scaffold coated with a mixture of alginate and cells, and (3) a multidispensed hybrid PCL/alginate scaffold embedded with cell-laden alginate struts. The three scaffolds had similar micropore structures (pore size=430–580 μm, porosity=62%–68%, square pore shape). Preosteoblast cells (MC3T3-E1) were used at the same cell density in each scaffold. By measuring cell-seeding efficiency, cell viability, and cell distribution after various periods of culturing, we sought to determine which scaffold was more appropriate for homogeneously regenerated tissues.
PMCID: PMC3751369  PMID: 23469894
22.  Advances in the design of macroporous polymer scaffolds for potential applications in dentistry 
A paradigm shift is taking place in medicine and dentistry from using synthetic implants and tissue grafts to a tissue engineering approach that uses degradable porous three-dimensional (3D) material hydrogels integrated with cells and bioactive factors to regenerate tissues such as dental bone and other oral tissues. Hydrogels have been established as a biomaterial of choice for many years, as they offer diverse properties that make them ideal in regenerative medicine, including dental applications. Being highly biocompatible and similar to native extracellular matrix, hydrogels have emerged as ideal candidates in the design of 3D scaffolds for tissue regeneration and drug delivery applications. However, precise control over hydrogel properties, such as porosity, pore size, and pore interconnectivity, remains a challenge. Traditional techniques for creating conventional crosslinked polymers have demonstrated limited success in the formation of hydrogels with large pore size, thus limiting cellular infiltration, tissue ingrowth, vascularization, and matrix mineralization (in the case of bone) of tissue-engineered constructs. Emerging technologies have demonstrated the ability to control microarchitectural features in hydrogels such as the creation of large pore size, porosity, and pore interconnectivity, thus allowing the creation of engineered hydrogel scaffolds with a structure and function closely mimicking native tissues. In this review, we explore the various technologies available for the preparation of macroporous scaffolds and their potential applications.
PMCID: PMC3891856  PMID: 24455437
Hydrogels; Polymers; Tissue engineering
23.  In vitro small intestinal epithelial cell growth on a nanocomposite polycaprolactone scaffold 
Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry  2009;54(Pt 4):221-229.
Tissue engineering of the small intestine remains experimental despite worldwide attempts to develop a functional substitute for short bowel syndrome. Most published studies have reported predominant use of PLLA (poly-L-lactide acid)/PGA (polyglycolic acid) copolymer as the scaffold material, and studies have been limited by in vivo experiments. This lack of progress has inspired a fresh perspective and provoked further investigation and development in this field of tissue engineering. In the present paper, we exploit a relatively new nanocomposite of POSS (polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane) and PCL [poly(caprolactone-urea)urethane] as a material to develop porous scaffolds using a solvent casting/particulate leaching technique to fabricate porous scaffolds in different pore sizes and porosities. Scaffolds were characterized for pore morphology and porosity using scanning electron microscopy and micro-computed tomography. Rat intestinal epithelial cells were then seeded on to the polymer scaffolds for an in vitro study of cell compatibility and proliferation, which was assessed by Alamar Blue™ and lactate dehydrogenase assays performed for 21 days post-seeding. The results obtained demonstrate that POSS–PCL nanocomposite was produced as a macroporous scaffold with porosity over the range of 40–80% and pore size over the range of 150–250 μm. This scaffold was shown to support epithelial cell proliferation and growth. In conclusion, as a further step in investigating small intestinal tissue engineering, the nanocomposite employed in this study may prove to be a useful alternative to poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) in the future.
PMCID: PMC2825731  PMID: 19860739
intestinal epithelial cell (IEC); nanocomposite; poly(caprolactone-urea)urethane (PCL); scaffold; tissue engineering; DMAC, dimethylacetamide; FTIR, Fourier-transform infrared; IEC, intestinal epithelial cell; LDH, lactate dehydrogenase; micro-CT, micro-computed tomography; PCL, poly(caprolactone-urea)urethane; PCU, poly(carbonate-urea)urethane; PGA, polyglycolic acid; PLGA, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid); PN, parenteral; POSS, polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane; SBS, short bowel syndrome; SEM, scanning electron microscopy
24.  Preparation and evaluation of poly (caprolactone fumarate) nanoparticles containing doxorubicin HCI 
Background and the purpose of the study
Biodegradable Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) has been used as bioresorbable sutures. In this study, doxorubicin HCl (Dox) loaded PCLF nanoparticles were prepared and characterized.
Material and methods
PCLFs were synthesized by polycondensation of PCL diols (Mws of 530, 1250 and 2000) with fumaryl chloride. The degradation of PCLF in NaOH, water and phosphate buffer saline (PBS), was determined in terms of changes in Mw. Nanoparticles (NPs) were prepared by two methods. In microemulsion polymerization method, dichloromethane containing PCLF and photoinitiator were combined with the water containing surfactants and then the mixture was placed under light for crosslinking. In nanoprecipitation method, the organic solvent containing PCLF was poured into the stirring water. The effect of several variables including concentration of PCLF, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), Dox and Trypan blue (Trb) and the Mw of PCLF and PVA on NP size and loading were evaluated.
PCLF 530, 1250 and 2000 in PBS or water were not degraded over 28 days. Nanoprecipitaion method gave spherical (revealed by SEM images) stable NPs of about 225 with narrow size distribution and a zeta potential of −43 mV. The size of NP increased significantly by increase in Mw or concentration of PCLF. Although PVA was not necessary for formation of NPs, but it decreased with NP size. Dox loading and EE were 2.5–6.8% and 15–20%, respectively. Increasing the drug concentration increased the drug loading (DL) and NP size. The entrapment efficiency (EE) for Trb ranged from 1% for PCLF530 to 6% for PCLF2000. An increase in PCLF concentration resulted in an increase in EE. Dox and Trb release showed a burst followed by 80% and 78% release during 3 and 4 days respectively.
PCLF possessed suitable characteristics for preparation of nanoparticulate drug delivery system such as desired NP size, stability and degradation time. Although PCLF530 NPs were the smallest, but their DL were lower than PCLF1250 and 2000 NPs.
PMCID: PMC3232073  PMID: 22615635
PCLF nanoparticles; Copolymer molecular weight; Nanoprecipitation method
25.  Manufacturing of biodegradable polyurethane scaffolds based on polycaprolactone using a phase separation method: physical properties and in vitro assay 
Biodegradable polyurethanes have found widespread use in soft tissue engineering due to their suitable mechanical properties and biocompatibility.
In this study, polyurethane samples were synthesized from polycaprolactone, hexamethylene diisocyanate, and a copolymer of 1,4-butanediol as a chain extender. Polyurethane scaffolds were fabricated by a combination of liquid–liquid phase separation and salt leaching techniques. The effect of the NCO:OH ratio on porosity content and pore morphology was investigated.
Scanning electron micrographs demonstrated that the scaffolds had a regular distribution of interconnected pores, with pore diameters of 50–300 μm, and porosities of 64%–83%. It was observed that, by increasing the NCO:OH ratio, the average pore size, compressive strength, and compressive modulus increased. L929 fibroblast and chondrocytes were cultured on the scaffolds, and all samples exhibited suitable cell attachment and growth, with a high level of biocompatibility.
These biodegradable polyurethane scaffolds demonstrate potential for soft tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC3205133  PMID: 22072874
polyurethane; tissue engineering; biodegradable; fibroblast cells

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