Articular cartilage is prone to degeneration and possesses extremely poor self-healing capacity due to inherent low cell density and the absence of a vasculature network. Tissue engineered cartilage scaffolds show promise for cartilage repair. However, there still remains a lack of ideal biomimetic tissue scaffolds which effectively stimulate cartilage regeneration with appropriate functional properties. Therefore, the objective of this study is to develop a novel biomimetic and bioactive electrospun cartilage substitute by integrating cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) treatment with sustained growth factor delivery microspheres. Specifically, CAP was applied to a poly(ε-caprolactone) electrospun scaffold with homogeneously distributed bioactive factors (transforming growth factor-β1 and bovine serum albumin) loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid microspheres. We have shown that CAP treatment renders electrospun scaffolds more hydrophilic thus facilitating vitronectin adsorption. More importantly, our results demonstrate, for the first time, CAP and microspheres can synergistically enhance stem cell growth as well as improve chondrogenic differentiation of human marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (such as increased glycosaminoglycan, type II collagen, and total collagen production). Furthermore, CAP can substantially enhance 3D cell infiltration (over two-fold increase in infiltration depth after 1 day of culture) in the scaffolds. By integrating CAP, sustained bioactive factor loaded microspheres, and electrospinning, we have fabricated a promising bioactive scaffold for cartilage regeneration.
Zhu, W., Castro, N. J., Cheng, X., Keidar, M., & Zhang, L. G. (2015). Cold atmospheric plasma modified electrospun scaffolds with embedded microspheres for improved cartilage regeneration. PLoS ONE, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0134729