Calcium Phosphate–Collagen Scaffold with Aligned Pore Channels for Enhanced Osteochondral Regeneration
This study reports the development of a bilayered scaffold with aligned channels produced via a sequential coextrusion and unidirectional freezing process to facilitate upward bone-marrow stem-cell migration. The biomimetic scaffold with collagen and biphasic calcium phosphate (BCP) layers is successfully fabricated with matching of the cartilage and bone layers. The aligned structure results in an enhancement of the compressive strength, and the channels enable tight anchoring of the collagen layers on the BCP scaffolds compared with a randomly structured porous scaffold. An in vitro evaluation demonstrates that the aligned channels guide the cells to attach on the surface in highly stretched shapes and migrate upward faster than the random structure. In addition, in vivo assessment reveals that the aligned channels yield superior osteochondral tissue regeneration compared with the random structure. Moreover, the channel diameter greatly affects the tissue regeneration, and the scaffold with a channel diameter of ≈270 μm exhibits the optimal regeneration because of sufficient nutrient supply and adequate tissue ingrowth. These findings indicate that the introduction of aligned channels to a bilayered scaffold provides an effective approach for osteochondral tissue regeneration.