Designing Scaffolds for Directed Cell Response in Tissue Engineering Scaffolds Fabricated by Vat Photopolymerization

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Virginia Tech


Vat photopolymerization (VP) is an additive manufacturing (AM) technology that permits the fabrication of parts with complex geometries and feature sizes as small as a few microns. These attributes make VP an attractive option for the fabrication of scaffolds for tissue engineering. However, there are few printable materials with low cytotoxicity that encourage cellular adhesion. In addition, these resins are not readily available and must be synthesized. A novel resin based on 2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid (NaAMPS) and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) was formulated and printed using VP. The mechanical properties, water content, and high fidelity of the scaffold indicated promise for use in tissue engineering applications. Murine fibroblasts were observed to successfully adhere and proliferate on the scaffolds.

The growth, migration, and differentiation of a cell is known to dependent heavily on its microenvironment. In engineered constructs, much of this microenvironment is provided by the tissue scaffold. The physical environment results from the scaffold's geometrical features, including pore shape and size, porosity, and overall dimensions. Each of these parameters are known to affect cell viability and proliferation, but due to the difficulty of isolating each parameter when using scaffold fabrication techniques such as porogen leaching and gas foaming, conflicting results have been reported. Scaffolds with pore sizes ranging from 200 to 600 μm were fabricated and seeded with murine fibroblasts. Other geometric parameters (e.g., pore shape) remained consistent between scaffold designs. Inhomogeneous cell distributions and fewer total cells were observed in scaffolds with smaller pore sizes (200-400 μm). Scaffolds with larger pores had higher cell densities that were homogeneously distributed. These data suggest that tissue scaffolds intended to promote fibroblast proliferation should be designed to have pore at least 500 μm in diameter.

Techniques developed for selective placement of dissimilar materials within a single VP scaffold enabled spatial control over cellular adhesion and proliferation. The multi-material scaffolds were fabricated using an unmodified and commercially available VP system. The material preferences of murine fibroblasts which resulted in their inhomogeneous distribution within multi-material scaffolds were confirmed with multiple resins and geometries. These results suggest that multi-material tissue scaffolds fabricated with VP could enable multiscale organization of cells and material into engineered constructs that would mimic the function of native tissue.



Additive manufacturing, 3D Printing, Tissue Engineering, Regenerative Medicine, Biomaterials