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Biomaterials. 2007 Oct;28(28):4078-90. Epub 2007 Jun 18.

Fabrication of porous ultra-short single-walled carbon nanotube nanocomposite scaffolds for bone tissue engineering.

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1
Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, MS-142, Houston, TX 77251-1892, USA.

Abstract

We investigated the fabrication of highly porous scaffolds made of three different materials [poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) polymer, an ultra-short single-walled carbon nanotube (US-tube) nanocomposite, and a dodecylated US-tube (F-US-tube) nanocomposite] in order to evaluate the effects of material composition and porosity on scaffold pore structure, mechanical properties, and marrow stromal cell culture. All scaffolds were produced by a thermal-crosslinking particulate-leaching technique at specific porogen contents of 75, 80, 85, and 90 vol%. Scanning electron microcopy, microcomputed tomography, and mercury intrusion porosimetry were used to analyze the pore structures of scaffolds. The porogen content was found to dictate the porosity of scaffolds. There was no significant difference in porosity, pore size, and interconnectivity among the different materials for the same porogen fraction. Nearly 100% of the pore volume was interconnected through 20microm or larger connections for all scaffolds. While interconnectivity through larger connections improved with higher porosity, compressive mechanical properties of scaffolds declined at the same time. However, the compressive modulus, offset yield strength, and compressive strength of F-US-tube nanocomposites were higher than or similar to the corresponding properties for the PPF polymer and US-tube nanocomposites for all the porosities examined. As for in vitro osteoconductivity, marrow stromal cells demonstrated equally good cell attachment and proliferation on all scaffolds made of different materials at each porosity. These results indicate that functionalized ultra-short single-walled carbon nanotube nanocomposite scaffolds with tunable porosity and mechanical properties hold great promise for bone tissue engineering applications.

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