3D printable Polycaprolactone-gelatin blends characterized for in vitro osteogenic potency

Synthetic polycaprolactone (PCL) was modified with various concentrations of gelatin (GL) to enhance its physical properties and biological activity for bone regeneration. A novel trisolvent mixture has been used to mix PCL and GL that were fabricated as scaffolds using 3D plotting. The scaffolds were characterized for their mechanical properties, hydrophilicity and swelling ability. In addition, the structure and morphology of the printed scaffolds were analyzed by Fourier-Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and microcomputed tomography (μCT). Attachment, proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of rat bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) cultured on the printed scaffolds were evaluated within 21 days. Increasing GL content in the scaffolds led to an enhanced hydrophilic nature, better pore size distribution and interconnected micro-pores. This resulted in better cellular attachment, proliferation and osteogenic differentiation. Although the multiple reactive sites and biochemical compatibility provided by GL improved the scaffolds’ osteogenic potency, the tensile strength and elasticity of the printed scaffolds are yet challenging with increasing GL contents.