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Keywords:

  • cartilage;
  • tissue engineering;
  • scaffold;
  • polymer;
  • osteoarthritis

Abstract

Few options exist to replace or repair damaged articular cartilage. The optimal solution that has been suggested is a scaffold that can carry load and integrate with surrounding tissues; but such a construct has thus far been elusive. The objectives of this study were to manufacture and characterize a nondegradable hydrated scaffold. Our hypothesis was that the polymer content of the scaffold can be used to control its mechanical properties, while an internal porous network augmented with biological agents can facilitate integration with the host tissue. Using a two-step water-in-oil emulsion process a porous polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) hydrogel scaffold combined with alginate microspheres was manufactured. The scaffold had a porosity of 11–30% with pore diameters of 107–187 μm, which readily allowed for movement of cells through the scaffold. Alginate microparticles were evenly distributed through the scaffold and allowed for the slow release of biological factors. The elastic modulus (Es) and Poisson's ratio (υ), Aggregate modulus (Ha) and dynamic modulus (ED) of the scaffold were significantly affected by % PVA, as it varied from 10 to 20% wt/vol. Es and υ were similar to that of articular cartilage for both polymer concentrations, while Ha and ED were similar to that of cartilage only at 20% PVA. The ability to control scaffold mechanical properties, while facilitating cellular migration suggest that this scaffold is a potentially viable candidate for the functional replacement of cartilage defects. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A, 2011.