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Keywords:

  • cartilage tissue engineering;
  • gelatin;
  • hybrid scaffold;
  • mesenchymal stem cell differentiation;
  • PCL;
  • PVA

ABSTRACT

Hybrid materials are widely and promisingly used as scaffolds in cartilage tissue remodeling. In this study, hybrid scaffolds consist of polycaprolactone (PCL), poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) with/without gelatin (GEL) to mimic natural cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) were investigated. Scaffolds were prepared by freeze drying and characterized by scanning electron microscopy and compressive mechanical testing. Biological assays of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) cultures, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide, and dimethyl methylene blue were performed, and real-time polymerization chain reaction analysis of the cartilage-specific ECM gene marker expression was done. The results show an open interconnected porous structure with a compression modulus of 1.27 ± 0.04 MPa. The surface of the scaffolds showed an excellent efficiency in the adhesion and proliferation of MSCs. A significant increase in the proteoglycan content from 3.70 ± 0.96 to 5.4 ± 1.13 μg/mL was observed after 14 days in the PCL–PVA–GEL scaffolds. The expression amount of the sex-determining region Y–Box 9 (SOX9) and collagen II (COL2) mRNA levels of the MSCs showed significant increases in SOX9 and COL2, respectively in comparison with PCL–PVA scaffold. The study revealed that the aforementioned scaffold as a blend of natural and synthetic polymers may be a promising substrate in tissue engineering for cartilage repair with MSC transplantation. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40635.