Mechanical properties of hybrid triphasic scaffolds for osteochondral tissue engineering

Reproducing the advanced complexity of native tissue by means of the 3D multi-functional construct is a promising tissue engineering approach to osteochondral tissue regeneration. In this study, we present a porous 3D construct composed of three zones responsible for the regeneration of non-calcified cartilage, calcified cartilage and subchondral bone. These three zones of the hybrid were composed of modified biopolymers: (i) alginate (Alg) reinforced by short polylactide (PLA) fibres, (ii) alginate and gelatine methacrylate (GelMA) combined with ß-tricalcium phosphate particles (TCP), (iii) 3D printed polycaprolactone scaffold subsequently modified with the use of an innovative solvent treatment method based on acetone and ultrasound stimulation, respectively. Combining the advanced deposition systems based on: (i) 3D printing coupled with a spray crosslinking system, (ii) an innovative deposition system based on a coaxial-needle extruder, (iii) fused deposition modelling (FDM) connected with post-fabrication treatment, allows us to fabricate the triphasic construct that emulates the structure and properties of the native osteochondral tissue. The aim of the study was to investigate the mechanical properties of the fabricated hybrid and its individual zones. Our results demonstrate the load-bearing capabilities of TC, but nevertheless it should be implanted below the surface line of host cartilage to protect it from strong stresses, at the same time allowing native host tissues to grow into it.