Surface-Modified Polypyrrole-Coated PLCL and PLGA Nerve Guide Conduits Fabricated by 3D Printing and Electrospinning

Biomacromolecules 2022 Volume 23, Issue 11, Pages 4532-4546

The efficiency of nerve guide conduits (NGCs) in repairing peripheral nerve injury is not high enough yet to be a substitute for autografts and is still insufficient for clinical use. To improve this efficiency, 3D electrospun scaffolds (3D/E) of poly(l-lactide-co-ε-caprolactone) (PLCL) and poly(l-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) were designed and fabricated by the combination of 3D printing and electrospinning techniques, resulting in an ideal porous architecture for NGCs. Polypyrrole (PPy) was deposited on PLCL and PLGA scaffolds to enhance biocompatibility for nerve recovery. The designed pore architecture of these “PLCL-3D/E” and “PLGA-3D/E” scaffolds exhibited a combination of nano- and microscale structures. The mean pore size of PLCL-3D/E and PLGA-3D/E scaffolds were 289 ± 79 and 287 ± 95 nm, respectively, which meets the required pore size for NGCs. Furthermore, the addition of PPy on the surfaces of both PLCL-3D/E (PLCL-3D/E/PPy) and PLGA-3D/E (PLGA-3D/E/PPy) led to an increase in their hydrophilicity, conductivity, and noncytotoxicity compared to noncoated PPy scaffolds. Both PLCL-3D/E/PPy and PLGA-3D/E/PPy showed conductivity maintained at 12.40 ± 0.12 and 10.50 ± 0.08 Scm–1 for up to 15 and 9 weeks, respectively, which are adequate for the electroconduction of neuron cells. Notably, the PLGA-3D/E/PPy scaffold showed superior cytocompatibility when compared with PLCL-3D/E/PPy, as evident via the viability assay, proliferation, and attachment of L929 and SC cells. Furthermore, analysis of cell health through membrane leakage and apoptotic indices showed that the 3D/E/PPy scaffolds displayed significant decreases in membrane leakage and reductions in necrotic tissue. Our finding suggests that these 3D/E/PPy scaffolds have a favorable design architecture and biocompatibility with potential for use in peripheral nerve regeneration applications.