Graphene oxide (GO) and a nanohydroxyapatite rod (nHA) of good biocompatibility were incorporated into polylactic acid (PLA) through electrospinning to form nanocomposite fiber scaffolds for bone tissue engineering applications. The preparation, morphological, mechanical and thermal properties, as well as biocompatibility of electrospun PLA scaffolds reinforced with GO and/or nHA were investigated. Electron microscopic examination and image analysis showed that GO and nHA nanofillers refine the diameter of electrospun PLA fibers. Differential scanning calorimetric tests showed that nHA facilitates the crystallization process of PLA, thereby acting as a nucleating site for the PLA molecules. Tensile test results indicated that the tensile strength and elastic modulus of the electrospun PLA mat can be increased by adding 15 wt % nHA. The hybrid nanocomposite scaffold with 15 wt % nHA and 1 wt % GO fillers exhibited higher tensile strength amongst the specimens investigated. Furthermore, nHA and GO nanofillers enhanced the water uptake of PLA. Cell cultivation, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and alkaline phosphatase tests demonstrated that all of the nanocomposite scaffolds exhibit higher biocompatibility than the pure PLA mat, particularly for the scaffold with 15 wt % nHA and 1 wt % GO. Therefore, the novel electrospun PLA nanocomposite scaffold with 15 wt % nHA and 1 wt % GO possessing a high tensile strength and modulus, as well as excellent cell proliferation is a potential biomaterial for bone tissue engineering applications.
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