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Acta Biomater. 2010 Jan;6(1):137-43. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2009.07.042. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Microsphere-based scaffolds for cartilage tissue engineering: using subcritical CO(2) as a sintering agent.

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Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA.


Shape-specific, macroporous tissue engineering scaffolds were fabricated and homogeneously seeded with cells in a single step. This method brings together CO(2) polymer processing and microparticle-based scaffolds in a manner that allows each to solve the key limitation of the other. Specifically, microparticle-based scaffolds have suffered from the limitation that conventional microsphere sintering methods (e.g., heat, solvents) are not cytocompatible, yet we have shown that cell viability was sustained with subcritical (i.e., gaseous) CO(2) sintering of microspheres in the presence of cells at near-ambient temperatures. On the other hand, the fused microspheres provided the pore interconnectivity that has eluded supercritical CO(2) foaming approaches. Here, fused poly(lactide-co-glycolide) microsphere scaffolds were seeded with human umbilical cord mesenchymal stromal cells to demonstrate the feasibility of utilizing these matrices for cartilage regeneration. We also demonstrated that the approach may be modified to produce thin cell-loaded patches as a promising alternative for skin tissue engineering applications.

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