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3D Printing Of Novel Osteochondral Scaffolds With Graded Microstructure.

M. Nowicki, N. Castro, M. Plesniak, L. Zhang
Published 2016 · Materials Science, Medicine

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Osteochondral tissue has a complex graded structure where biological, physiological, and mechanical properties vary significantly over the full thickness spanning from the subchondral bone region beneath the joint surface to the hyaline cartilage region at the joint surface. This presents a significant challenge for tissue-engineered structures addressing osteochondral defects. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D bioprinters present a unique solution to this problem. The objective of this study is to use FDM-based 3D bioprinting and nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite for improved bone marrow human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) adhesion, growth, and osteochondral differentiation. FDM printing parameters can be tuned through computer aided design and computer numerical control software to manipulate scaffold geometries in ways that are beneficial to mechanical performance without hindering cellular behavior. Additionally, the ability to fine-tune 3D printed scaffolds increases further through our investment casting procedure which facilitates the inclusion of nanoparticles with biochemical factors to further elicit desired hMSC differentiation. For this study, FDM was used to print investment-casting molds innovatively designed with varied pore distribution over the full thickness of the scaffold. The mechanical and biological impacts of the varied pore distributions were compared and evaluated to determine the benefits of this physical manipulation. The results indicate that both mechanical properties and cell performance improve in the graded pore structures when compared to homogeneously distributed porous and non-porous structures. Differentiation results indicated successful osteogenic and chondrogenic manipulation in engineered scaffolds.
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