Scaffolds with open-pore morphologies offer several advantages in cell-based tissue engineering, but their use is limited by a low cell-seeding efficiency. We hypothesized that inclusion of a collagen network as filling material within the open-pore architecture of polycaprolactone-tricalcium phosphate (PCL-TCP) scaffolds increases human bone marrow stromal cells (hBMSCs) seeding efficiency under perfusion and in vivo osteogenic capacity of the resulting constructs. PCL-TCP scaffolds, rapid prototyped with a honeycomb-like architecture, were filled with a collagen gel and subsequently lyophilized, with or without final crosslinking. Collagen-free scaffolds were used as controls. The seeding efficiency was assessed after overnight perfusion of expanded hBMSCs directly through the scaffold pores using a bioreactor system. By seeding and culturing freshly harvested hBMSCs under perfusion for 3 weeks, the osteogenic capacity of generated constructs was tested by ectopic implantation in nude mice. The presence of the collagen network, independently of the crosslinking process, significantly increased the cell seeding efficiency (2.5-fold), and reduced the loss of clonogenic cells in the supernatant. Although no implant generated frank bone tissue, possibly due to the mineral distribution within the scaffold polymer phase, the presence of a non-crosslinked collagen phase led to in vivo formation of scattered structures of dense osteoids. Our findings verify that the inclusion of a collagen network within open morphology porous scaffolds improves cell retention under perfusion seeding. In the context of cell-based therapies, collagen-filled porous scaffolds are expected to yield superior cell utilization, and could be combined with perfusion-based bioreactor devices to streamline graft manufacture.
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.