Decellularized Scaffolds of Nopal (Opuntia Ficus-indica) for Bioengineering in Regenerative Dentistry

J Funct Biomater. 2023 May 1;14(5):252. doi: 10.3390/jfb14050252.


Opuntia Ficus-indica, or nopal, is traditionally used for its medicinal properties in Mexico. This study aims to decellularize and characterize nopal (Opuntia Ficus-indica) scaffolds, assess their degradation and the proliferation of hDPSC, and determine potential pro-inflammatory effects by assessing the expression of cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 (COX-1 and 2). The scaffolds were decellularized using a 0.5% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) solution and confirmed by color, optical microscopy, and SEM. The degradation rates and mechanical properties of the scaffolds were determined by weight and solution absorbances using trypsin and PBS and tensile strength testing. Human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) primary cells were used for scaffold-cell interaction and proliferation assays, as well as an MTT assay to determine proliferation. Proinflammatory protein expression of COX-I and -II was discovered by Western blot assay, and the cultures were induced into a pro-inflammatory state with interleukin 1-β. The nopal scaffolds exhibited a porous structure with an average pore size of 252 ± 77 μm. The decellularized scaffolds showed a 57% reduction in weight loss during hydrolytic degradation and a 70% reduction during enzymatic degradation. There was no difference in tensile strengths between native and decellularized scaffolds (12.5 ± 1 and 11.8 ± 0.5 MPa). Furthermore, hDPSCs showed a significant increase in cell viability of 95% and 106% at 168 h for native and decellularized scaffolds, respectively. The combination of the scaffold and hDPSCs did not cause an increase in the expression of COX-1 and COX-2 proteins. However, when the combination was exposed to IL-1β, there was an increase in the expression of COX-2. This study demonstrates the potential application of nopal scaffolds in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine or dentistry, owing to their structural characteristics, degradation properties, mechanical properties, ability to induce cell proliferation, and lack of enhancement of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Keywords: cellulose scaffolds; plant-based polymer; three-dimensional cellulose; tissue engineering.