K.Y. Ching, O.G. Andriotis, S. Li, P. Basnett, B. Su, Rahul S. Tare, B.G. Sengers, M. Stolz:
"Nanofibrous Poly(3-Hydroxybutyrate)/Poly(3-Hydroxyoctanoate) Scaffolds Provide a Functional Microenvironment for Cartilage Repair";
Journal of Biomaterials Applications,
Articular cartilage defects, when repaired ineffectively, often lead to further deterioration of the tissue, secondary osteoarthritis and, ultimately, joint replacement. Unfortunately, current surgical procedures are unable to restore normal cartilage function. Tissue engineering of cartilage provides promising strategies for the regeneration of damaged articular cartilage. As yet, there are still significant challenges that need to be overcome to match the long-term mechanical stability and durability of native cartilage. Using electrospinning of different blends of biodegradable poly(3-hydroxybutyrate)/poly(3-hydroxyoctanoate), we produced polymer scaffolds and optimised their structure, stiffness, degradation rates and biocompatibility. Scaffolds with a poly(3-hydroxybutyrate)/poly(3-hydroxyoctanoate) ratio of 1:0.25 exhibit randomly oriented fibres that closely mimic the collagen fibrillar meshwork of native cartilage and match the stiffness of native articular cartilage. Degradation of the scaffolds into products that could be easily removed from the body was indicated by changes in fibre structure, loss of molecular weight and a decrease in scaffold stiffness after one and four months. Histological and immunohistochemical analysis after three weeks of culture with human articular chondrocytes revealed a hyaline-like cartilage matrix. The ability to fine tune the ultrastructure and mechanical properties using different blends of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate)/poly(3-hydroxyoctanoate) allows to produce a cartilage repair kit for clinical use to reduce the risk of developing secondary osteoarthritis. We further suggest the development of a toolbox with tailor-made scaffolds for the repair of other tissues that require a `guiding´ structure to support the body´s self-healing process.
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