Promotion of In Vitro Osteogenic Activity by Melt Extrusion-Based PLLA/PCL/PHBV Scaffolds Enriched with Nano-Hydroxyapatite and Strontium Substituted Nano-Hydroxyapatite

Polymers (Basel). 2023 Feb 20;15(4):1052. doi: 10.3390/polym15041052.


Bone tissue engineering has emerged as a promising strategy to overcome the limitations of current treatments for bone-related disorders, but the trade-off between mechanical properties and bioactivity remains a concern for many polymeric materials. To address this need, novel polymeric blends of poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), polycaprolactone (PCL) and poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) have been explored. Blend filaments comprising PLLA/PCL/PHBV at a ratio of 90/5/5 wt% have been prepared using twin-screw extrusion. The PLLA/PCL/PHBV blends were enriched with nano-hydroxyapatite (nano-HA) and strontium-substituted nano-HA (Sr-nano-HA) to produce composite filaments. Three-dimensional scaffolds were printed by fused deposition modelling from PLLA/PCL/PHBV blend and composite filaments and evaluated mechanically and biologically for their capacity to support bone formation in vitro. The composite scaffolds had a mean porosity of 40%, mean pores of 800 µm, and an average compressive modulus of 32 MPa. Polymer blend and enriched scaffolds supported cell attachment and proliferation. The alkaline phosphatase activity and calcium production were significantly higher in composite scaffolds compared to the blends. These findings demonstrate that thermoplastic polyesters (PLLA and PCL) can be combined with polymers produced via a bacterial route (PHBV) to produce polymer blends with excellent biocompatibility, providing additional options for polymer blend optimization. The enrichment of the blend with nano-HA and Sr-nano-HA powders enhanced the osteogenic potential in vitro.

Keywords: 3D printing; PCL; PHBV; PLLA; bone tissue engineering; composite scaffolds; extrusion; fused deposition modeling (FDM).