A smart scaffold composed of three-dimensional printing and electrospinning techniques and its application in rat abdominal wall defects

Background
Biological composite scaffolds are increasingly being used in abdominal wall reconstruction but still have certain shortcomings. The present study describes here a novel three-dimensional (3D) scaffold fabricated by combining 3D printing (3DP) and electrospinning (ESP).

Methods
Biological composite scaffolds are composed of integrated 3DP interconnected macrofiber and random ESP microfiber networks. The 3DP scaffold retains intact 3D architecture and mechanical properties, while the ESP network serves as a cell entrapment system at the extracellular matrix (ECM) scale. Biological composite scaffolds are implanted in a defective rat abdominal wall to detect if it could induce early vascularization and reconstruction of the tissue defect.

Results
SEM analysis reveals a pore diameter of 424.47 ± 58.49 μm and a porosity of 70.46 ± 2.48% for biological composite scaffolds. In the in vitro test of cell proliferation, biological composite scaffolds do not affect rat dermal fibroblast proliferation in a time- and dose-dependent manner. The animal experiments show tissue remodeling and early angiogenesis as compared to 3DP scaffolds.

Conclusions
Our experiment prepares a biological scaffold with both a macro- and microscale structure by ESP and 3DP technology. Thus, the integration of 3DP and ESP techniques provides a new set of smart scaffolds for abdominal wall defect and hernia repair.