Braiding Electrospun Nanofibers for Tendon/Ligament Tissue Engineering, 2011 Innovative Nonwovens Conference
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Tissue engineering is a promising solution to tissue or organ shortage. To achieve the tissue engineering goal, it is critical to use a biomaterial scaffold that has favorable mechanical and biological properties to culture cells for tissue regeneration. In this study, we explored the potential of a unique braided nanofibrous scaffold (BNFS) that is composed of aligned electrospun nanofiber bundles for tendon/ligament tissue engineering. We braided multiple aligned nanofiber bundles into a three-dimensional structure to enhance mechanical properties of the scaffold, and then cultured human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) in the scaffold and stimulated with tensile loading to induce tendon/ligament regeneration. Our hypothesis is that the unique BNFS can effectively induce hMSC differentiation and extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesis to produce mechanically, structurally, and biologically functional tendon/ligament grafts. Our results showed that structural properties of BNFSs were dependent on fabrication parameters, such as the number of braided fiber bundles. Cells cultured in the braided scaffolds continued to proliferate and produced tendon/ligament ECM during the culture period. Interestingly, the fibrous structure of the scaffold effectively oriented cells and cytoskeleton organization for favorable biological response. Taken together, this study demonstrates the potential of a novel BNF for functional tendon/ligament tissue engineering.