The use of electrospun extracellular matrix (ECM)-mimicking nanofibrous scaffolds for tissue engineering is limited by poor cellular infiltration. The authors hypothesised that cell penetration could be enhanced in scaffolds by using a hierarchical structure where nano fibres are combined with micron-scale fibres while preserving the overall scaffold architecture. To assess this, we fabricated electrospun porous poly(lactic acid) (PLA) scaffolds having nanoscale, microscale and combined micro/nano architecture and evaluated the structural characteristics and biological response in detail. Although the bioactivity was intermediate to that for nanofibre and microfibre scaffold, a unique result of this study was that the micro/nano combined fibrous scaffold showed improved cell infiltration and distribution than the nanofibrous scaffold. Although the cells were found to be lining the scaffold periphery in the case of nanofibrous scaffold, micro/nano scaffolds had cells dispersed throughout the scaffold. Further, as expected, the addition of nanoparticles of hydroxyapatite (nHAp) improved the bioactivity, although it did not play a significant role in cell penetration. Thus, this strategy of creating a three-dimensional (3D) micro/nano architecture that would increase the porosity of the fibrous scaffold and thereby improving the cell penetration, can be utilised for the generation of functional tissue engineered constructs in vitro. © 2012 The Institution of Engineering and Technology.
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K. Ta Shalumon, Chennazhi, K. Pa, Tamura, Hb, Kawahara, Kb, Nair, S. Va, and Jayakumar, Ra, “Fabrication of three-dimensional nano, micro and micro/nano scaffolds of porous poly(lactic acid) by electrospinning and comparison of cell infiltration by Z-stacking/three-dimensional projection technique”, IET Nanobiotechnology, vol. 6, pp. 16-25, 2012.