Integration of 3D Printed and Micropatterned Polycaprolactone Scaffolds for Guidance of Oriented Collagenous Tissue Formation In Vivo

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Scaffold design incorporating multiscale cues for clinically relevant, aligned tissue regeneration has potential to improve structural and functional integrity of multitissue interfaces. The objective of this preclinical study is to develop poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) scaffolds with mesoscale and microscale architectural cues specific to human ligament progenitor cells and assess their ability to form aligned bone–ligament–cementum complexes in vivo. PCL scaffolds are designed to integrate a 3D printed bone region with a micropatterned PCL thin film consisting of grooved pillars. The patterned film region is seeded with human ligament cells, fibroblasts transduced with bone morphogenetic protein-7 genes seeded within the bone region, and a tooth dentin segment positioned on the ligament region prior to subcutaneous implantation into a murine model. Results indicate increased tissue alignment in vivo using micropatterned PCL films, compared to random-porous PCL. At week 6, 30 μm groove depth significantly enhances oriented collagen fiber thickness, overall cell alignment, and nuclear elongation relative to 10 μm groove depth. This study demonstrates for the first time that scaffolds with combined hierarchical mesoscale and microscale features can align cells in vivo for oral tissue repair with potential for improving the regenerative response of other bone–ligament complexes.

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