A Preliminary Evaluation of the Pro-Chondrogenic Potential of 3D-Bioprinted Poly(ester Urea) Scaffolds
Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, The University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, School of Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Centre for Mechanical Engineering, Materials and Processes, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Coimbra, Rua Sílvio Lima-Pólo II, 3030-790 Coimbra, Portugal
Institute of Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials—National Research Council of Italy, V.le J.F. Kennedy 54—Mostra d’Oltremare Pad. 20, 80125 Naples, Italy
Institute of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Agricultural University of Georgia, 240, David Aghmashenebeli Alley, Tbilisi 0159, Georgia
Division of Cell Matrix Biology and Regenerative Medicine, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, The University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
The Henry Royce Institute, The University of Manchester, Alan Turing Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Polymers 2020, 12(7), 1478; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym12071478
Received: 10 June 2020 / Revised: 25 June 2020 / Accepted: 26 June 2020 / Published: 30 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Biofabrication for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Applications)
Degeneration of articular cartilage (AC) is a common healthcare issue that can result in significantly impaired function and mobility for affected patients. The avascular nature of the tissue strongly burdens its regenerative capacity contributing to the development of more serious conditions such as osteoarthritis. Recent advances in bioprinting have prompted the development of alternative tissue engineering therapies for the generation of AC. Particular interest has been dedicated to scaffold-based strategies where 3D substrates are used to guide cellular function and tissue ingrowth. Despite its extensive use in bioprinting, the application of polycaprolactone (PCL) in AC is, however, restricted by properties that inhibit pro-chondrogenic cell phenotypes. This study proposes the use of a new bioprintable poly(ester urea) (PEU) material as an alternative to PCL for the generation of an in vitro model of early chondrogenesis. The polymer was successfully printed into 3D constructs displaying adequate substrate stiffness and increased hydrophilicity compared to PCL. Human chondrocytes cultured on the scaffolds exhibited higher cell viability and improved chondrogenic phenotype with upregulation of genes associated with type II collagen and aggrecan synthesis. Bioprinted PEU scaffolds could, therefore, provide a potential platform for the fabrication of bespoke, pro-chondrogenic tissue engineering constructs.