Engineered tendon grafts offer a promising alternative for grafting during the reconstruction of complex tendon tears. The tissue-engineered tendon substitutes have the advantage of increased biosafety and the option to customize their biochemical and biophysical properties to promote tendon regeneration. In this study, we developed a novel centrifugal melt electrospinning (CME) technique, with the goal of optimizing the fabrication parameters to generate fibrous scaffolds for tendon tissue engineering. The effects of CME processing parameters, including rotational speed, voltage, and temperature, on fiber properties (i.e. orientation, mean diameter, and productivity) were systematically investigated. By using this solvent-free and environmentally friendly method, we fabricated both random and aligned poly (L-lactic acid) (PLLA) fibrous scaffolds with controllable mesh thickness. We also investigated and compared their morphology, surface hydrophilicity, and mechanical properties. We seeded human adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells (HADMSC) on various PLLA fibrous scaffolds and conditioned the constructs in tenogenic differentiation medium for up to 21 days, to investigate the effects of fiber alignment and scaffold thickness on cell behavior. Aligned fibrous scaffolds induced cell elongation and orientation through a contact guidance phenomenon and promoted HADMSC proliferation and differentiation towards tenocytes. At the early stage, thinner scaffolds were beneficial for HADMSC proliferation, but the scaffold thickness had no significant effects on cell proliferation for longer-term cell culture. We further co-seeded HADMSC and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) on aligned PLLA fibrous mats and determined how the vascularization affected HADMSC tenogenesis. We found that co-cultured HADMSC-HUVEC expressed more tendon-related markers on the aligned fibrous scaffold. The co-culture systems promoted in vitro HADMSC differentiation towards tenocytes. These aligned fibrous scaffolds fabricated by CME technique could potentially be utilized to repair and regenerate tendon defects and injuries with cell co-culture and controlled vascularization.
- fiber alignment
- human adipose derived stem cells
- human umbilical vein endothelial cells
- mesh thickness
- tendon tissue engineering
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering