Hierarchical starch‐based fibrous scaffold for bone tissue engineering applications

Fibrous structures mimicking the morphology of the natural extracellular matrix are considered promising scaffolds for tissue engineering. This work aims to develop a novel hierarchical starch-based scaffold. Such scaffolds were obtained by a combination of starch-polycaprolactone micro- and polycaprolactone nano-motifs, respectively produced by rapid prototyping (RP) and electrospinning techniques. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and micro-computed tomography analysis showed the successful fabrication of a multilayer scaffold composed of parallel aligned microfibres in a grid-like arrangement, intercalated by a mesh-like structure with randomly distributed nanofibres (NFM). Human osteoblast-like cells were dynamically seeded on the scaffolds, using spinner flasks, and cultured for 7 days under static conditions. SEM analysis showed predominant cell attachment and spreading on the nanofibre meshes, which enhanced cell retention at the bulk of the composed/hierarchical scaffolds. A significant increment in cell proliferation and osteoblastic activity, assessed by alkaline phosphatase quantification, was observed on the hierarchical fibrous scaffolds. These results support our hypothesis that the integration of nanoscale fibres into 3D rapid prototype scaffolds substantially improves their biological performance in bone tissue-engineering strategies.