This study is aimed at investigation of the osteochondral regeneration potential of bilayered PLGA/PLGA-HAp composite scaffolds with one layer made of biodegradable polymer poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) and another layer made of PLGA polymeric matrix coated by bioactive ceramics hydroxyapatite (HAp). The composite scaffolds were fabricated by compression molding/particle leaching and plasma-treated surface deposition. The pore morphology, mechanical properties, and surface deposition of the scaffold were characterized, and the growth of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells or medicinal signaling cells (MSCs) in the scaffold was verified. Thereafter, rabbit models with an artificial osteochondral defect in joint were randomized into three treatment groups: virgin bilayered scaffold, bilayered scaffold preseeded in vitro with MSCs, and untreated blank control. At 16-week postoperation, both the virgin scaffolds and cell-seeded bilayered scaffolds exhibited osteochondral repair, as verified by biomechanics analysis, histological evaluations, and Western blot. The results highlighted the potentiality of the bilayered PLGA/PLGA-HAp composite scaffold for osteochondral tissue engineering, and in particular tissue regeneration or in situ tissue induction, probably by recruiting the local cells toward chondrogenic and osteogenic differentiation in the porous biomaterials.
Keywords: bilayered scaffold; biodegradable polymers; composite materials; osteochondral repair; tissue regeneration.