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Keywords:

  • Electrospinning;
  • Poly(ϵ-caprolactone);
  • RGD peptide;
  • Scaffold;
  • Tissue engineering

Abstract

Electrospun scaffolds derived from poly(ϵ-caprolactone) (PCL), a well known biodegradable material, have an architecture that is suitable for hosting cells. However, their biomedical applications are restricted because these scaffolds lack the bioactivity necessary to stimulate cell responses. In this work, a repetitive Arg-Gly-Asp (rRGD) peptide was produced as a cell-stimulating agent to provide the PCL scaffold with bioactivity. DNA encoding rRGD was amplified by polymerase chain reaction using overlap primers without a DNA template, and cloned into a protein expression vector to produce a His-tag fusion peptide. In an in vitro cell adhesion assay, the purified rRGD peptide, comprising 30 RGD repeats, promoted a 1.5-fold greater cell adhesion than the commercial tripeptide RGD. The rRGD peptide was immobilized onto an electrospun PCL scaffold that had been pretreated with argon plasma and graft-polymerized with acrylic acid. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis indicated that covalently linked rRGD peptide was present on the scaffold. The PCL scaffold with immobilized rRGD showed significantly changed hydrophilic properties and an enhanced adhesion and proliferation of mouse fibroblast cells by 2.3- and 2.9-fold, respectively, compared to the PCL scaffold alone. Through its ability to promote cell adhesion and proliferation, the rRGD peptide has great potential as a stimulant for improving the suboptimal cell-matrix interaction of polymeric scaffolds for tissue engineering applications.