Development and characterisation of compressed, macro-porous and collagen-coated poly-ε-caprolactone electrospun meshes
Fuller, Kieran P.
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Electrospun scaffolds are utilised in a diverse spectrum of clinical targets, with an ever-increasing quantity of work progressing to clinical studies and commercialisation. However, the very dense architecture and the low mechanical properties of the produced scaffolds limit their wide use in clinical practice. Herein, firstly, a single-strep fabrication process for the development of electrospun scaffolds with variable porosity (0 %, 30 %, 50 %, 70 %) and pore shape (circle, rhomboid, square) was assessed and the structural, mechanical (tensile and ball burst) and biological (dermal fibroblast and THP-1) properties of the produced scaffolds were evaluated. The collector design did not affect the fibrous nature of the scaffold. Modulation of the porosity and pore shape offered control over the mechanical properties of the scaffolds. Neither the porosity nor the pore shape affected cellular (dermal fibroblast and THP-1) response. Overall, this work provides evidence that electrospun scaffolds of controlled architecture can be fabricated with fibrous fidelity, adequate mechanical properties and acceptable cytocompatibility for a diverse range of clinical targets. The nano-fibrous architecture of electrospun meshes favours their use in biomedicine, but their low mechanical properties prohibit their wide use in clinical practice. Introduction of porosity, essential of tissue integration, decreases further mechanical integrity. Therefore, it was hypothesised that macro-porous electrospun meshes with adequate mechanical properties can be fabricated through layering and subsequent compression. Two and three layers electrospun poly-ε-caprolactone scaffolds were fabricated, compressed and subsequently 30 % circular porosity was introduced through laser cutting. Three-layered porous electrospun meshes exhibited mechanical properties similar to commercially available scaffolds without any structural or cytotoxic effect. This study brings electrospun materials closer to clinical translation and commercialisation. Electrospun meshes have small macro-porosity, which is associated with foreign body response, whilst macro-porous electrospun meshes have low mechanical integrity. Herein, compressed, macro-porous and collagen (bovine Achilles tendon and human recombinant) coated electrospun poly-ε-caprolactone scaffolds were developed and their biomechanical, in vitro and in vivo properties were assessed. Collagen coating, independently of the source, did not significantly affect the biomechanical properties of the scaffolds. Although no significant difference in cell viability was observed between the groups, collagen coated scaffolds induced significantly higher DNA concentration. In vivo, no signs of adverse tissue effect were observed in any of the groups and all groups appeared to equally integrate into the subcutaneous tissue. It is evidenced that macro-porous poly-ε-caprolactone electrospun meshes with adequate mechanical properties and acceptable host response can be developed for biomedical applications. Collectively, these data suggest the feasibility to create highly defined electrospun meshes with improved mechanical properties, cytocompatibility and tissue integration, paving the way for further applications for various clinical targets.
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