Peripheral mineralization of a 3D biodegradable tubular construct as a way to enhance guidance stabilization in spinal cord injury regeneration
Spinal cord injuries (SCI) present a major challenge to therapeutic development due to its complexity. Combinatorial approaches using biodegradable polymers that can simultaneously provide a tissue scaffold, a cell vehicle, and a reservoir for sustained drug delivery have shown very promising results. In our previous studies we have developed a novel hybrid system consisting of starch/poly-e-caprolactone (SPCL) semi-rigid tubular porous structure, based on a rapid prototyping technology, filled by a gellan gum hydrogel concentric core for the regeneration within spinal-cord injury sites. In the present work we intend to promote enhanced osteointegration on these systems by pre-mineralizing specifically the external surfaces of the SPCL tubular structures, though a biomimetic strategy, using a sodium silicate gel as nucleating agent. The idea is to create two different cell environments to promote axonal regeneration in the interior of the constructs while inducing osteogenic activity on its external surface. By using a Teflon cylinder to isolate the interior of the scaffold, it was possible to observe the formation of a bone-like poorly crystalline carbonated apatite layer continuously formed only in the external side of the tubular structure. This biomimetic layer was able to support the adhesion of Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells, which have gone under cytoskeleton reorganization in the first hours of culture when compared to cells cultured on uncoated scaffolds. This strategy can be a useful route for locally stimulate bone tissue regeneration and facilitating early bone ingrowth.