Anatomical 3D fiber – deposited scaffolds for tissue engineering: designing a neotrachea

The advantage of using anatomically shaped scaffolds as compared to modeled designs was investigated and assessed in terms of cartilage formation in an artificial tracheal construct. Scaffolds were rapid prototyped with a technique named three-dimensional fiber deposition (3DF). Anatomical scaffolds were fabricated from a patient-derived computerized tomography dataset, and compared to cylindrical and toroidal tubular scaffolds. Lewis rat tracheal chondrocytes were seeded on 3DF scaffolds and cultured for 21 days. The 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2yl)-2,5-dyphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) assays were performed to measure the relative number of cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) formed. After 3 weeks of culture, the anatomical scaffolds revealed a significant increase in ECM synthesis and a higher degree of differentiation as shown by the GAG/MTT ratio and by scanning electron microscopy analysis. Interestingly, a lower scaffold’s pore volume and porosity resulted in more tissue formation and a better cell differentiation, as evidenced by GAG and GAG/MTT values. Scaffolds were compliant and did not show any signs of luminal obstruction in vitro. These results may promote anatomical scaffolds as functional matrices for tissue regeneration not only to help regain the original shape, but also for their improved capacity to support larger tissue formation.