Bone is a composite tissue composed of an organic matrix, inorganic mineral matrix and water. Structurally, bone is organized into two distinct types: trabecular (or cancellous) and cortical (or compact) bone. Cortical bone is highly organized, dense and composed of tightly packed units or osteons whereas trabecular bone is highly porous and usually found within the confines of cortical bone. Osteons, the subunits of cortical bone, consist of concentric layers of mineralized collagen fibers. While many scaffold fabrication techniques have sought to replicate the structure and organization of trabecular bone, very little research focuses on mimicking the organization of native cortical bone. In this study we fabricated three-dimensional electrospun cortical scaffolds by heat sintering individual osteon-like scaffolds. The scaffolds contained a system of channels running parallel to the length of the scaffolds, as found naturally in the haversian systems of bone tissue. The purpose of the studies discussed in this paper was to develop a mechanically enhanced biomimetic electrospun cortical scaffold. To that end we investigated the appropriate mineralization and cross-linking methods for these structures and to evaluate the mechanical properties of scaffolds with varying fiber angles. Cross-linking the gelatin in the scaffolds prior to the mineralization of the scaffolds proved to help prevent channels of the osteons from collapsing during fabrication. Premineralization, before larger scaffold formation and mineralization, increased mineral deposition between the electrospun layers of the scaffolds. A combination of cross-linking and premineralization significantly increased the compressive moduli of the individual scaffolds. Furthermore, scaffolds with fibers orientation ranging between 15° and 45° yielded the highest compressive moduli and yield strength.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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