In tissue engineering, biocompatible scaffolds are used as 3D cell niches to provide a similar environment to that of native tissue for seeded cells to regenerate the target tissue. When engineering bone tissue, high mechanical strength and calcium phosphate composition are essential factors to consider. In this study, we fabricated biocompatible composite scaffolds composed of synthetic polymers (polycaprolactone (PCL) and poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA)), natural polymers (gelatin and collagen) and bioceramic (hydroxyapatite; HA) for bone tissue engineering. The synthetic polymers were used to enhance the mechanical properties of the composite scaffolds while the natural protein-based polymers were used to enhance various cellular activities, such as cell adhesion and proliferation. Meanwhile, the bioceramic was introduced to promote osteogenic differentiation. Composite scaffolds were evaluated for their physical characteristics, such as mechanical, swelling and protein absorbing properties as well as biological properties (cell proliferation, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activities and calcium deposition) with human osteoblast-like cells (MG63). Consequently, incorporation of hydroxyapatite into the gelatin/PVA (C-GPH) scaffold showed 5-fold and 1.5-fold increase in calcium deposition and ALP activities, respectively compared to gelatin/PVA scaffold (C-GP). Moreover, compressive modulus also increased 1.8-fold. Integration of PCL core into gelatin/PVA/hydroxyapatite scaffold (C-PGPH) further amplified the compressive modulus 1.5-fold. In conclusion, the scaffold that is reinforced with HA particles and integrated with PCL core of the struts showed significant potential in field of bone tissue engineering.
Keywords: bioceramic; core-shell printing; hard tissue engineering; hydroxyapatite (HA).