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Biomaterials. 2001 Mar;22(6):609-18.

Thermal compression and characterization of three-dimensional nonwoven PET matrices as tissue engineering scaffolds.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


Nonwoven fibrous matrices have been widely used as scaffolds in tissue engineering, and modification of microstructure of these matrices is needed to organize cells in three-dimensional space with spatially balanced proliferation and differentiation required for functional tissue development. The method of thermal compression of nonwoven polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fabrics was developed and key parameters of temperature, pressure, and compression duration were evaluated in this study. The permanent deformation was obtained at elevated temperature under pressure and the viscoelastic compressional behaviors were observed, characterized by a distinct apparent modulus change in glass transition temperature region. A liquid extrusion method was further employed to analyze both pore size and its distribution for matrices with porosity ranging from 84 to 93%. It is also found that a more uniformly distributed pore size was resulted from thermal compression and the isotropic nature of nonwoven fabrics was preserved because of the proportional reduction of the pore by compression. The thermally compressed fabric matrices with two different pore sizes (15 and 20 microm in pore radius) were used to culture human trophoblast ED27 and NIH 3T3 cells. It was found that cells cultured in the different pore-size PET matrices had different cell spatial organization and proliferation rates. The smaller pores in the matrix allowed cells to spread better and proliferate faster, while cells in the larger pores tended to form large aggregates and had lower proliferation rate. The thermal compression technique also can be applied to other synthetic fibrous matrices including biodegradable polymers used in tissue engineering to modify the microstructure according to their viscoelastic properties.

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