Fabrication of chitosan/alginate/hydroxyapatite hybrid scaffolds using 3D printing and impregnating techniques for potential cartilage regeneration

International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 2022 Volume 204, Pages 62-75

Three-dimensional (3D) printed hydrogel scaffolds enhanced with ceramics have shown potential applications for cartilage regeneration, but leaving biological and mechanical properties to be desired. This paper presents our study on the development of chitosan /alginate scaffolds with nano hydroxyapatite (nHA) by combining 3D printing and impregnating techniques, forming a hybrid, yet novel, structure of scaffolds for potential cartilage regeneration. First, we incorporated nHA into chitosan scaffold printing and studied the printability by examining the difference between the printed scaffolds and their designs. Then, we impregnated alginate with nHA into the printed chitosan scaffolds to forming a hybrid structure of scaffolds; and then characterized the scaffolds mechanically and biologically, with a focus on identifying the influence of nHA and alginate for potential cartilage regeneration. The results of compression tests on the scaffolds showed that the inclusion of nHA increased the elastic moduli of scaffolds; while the live/dead assay illustrated that nHA had a great effect on improving attachment and viability of ATCD5 cells on the scaffolds. Also, our results illustrated scaffolds with nHA impregnated in alginate hydrogel enhanced the cell viability and attachment. Furthermore, antibacterial activity of hybrid scaffolds was characterized with results indicating that the chitosan scaffolds had favourable antibacterial ability, which was further enhanced with the impregnated nHA. Taken together, our study has illustrated that chitosan/HA/alginate hybrid scaffolds are promising for cartilage regeneration and the methods developed to create hybrid scaffolds based on 3D printing and impregnating techniques, which can also be extended to fabricating scaffolds for other tissue engineering applications.