Cellular responses to thermoresponsive stiffness memory elastomer nanohybrid scaffolds by 3D-TIPS

Linxiao Wu, Adrian Magaz, Elizabeth Maughan, Nina Oliver, Arnold Darbyshire, Marilena Loizidou, Mark Emberton, Martin Birchall, Wenhui Song

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    Increasing evidence suggests the contribution of the dynamic mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM) to regulate tissue remodeling and regeneration. Following our recent study on a family of thermoresponsive ‘stiffness memory’ elastomeric nanohybrid scaffolds manufactured via an indirect 3D printing guided thermally-induced phase separation process (3D-TIPS), this work reports in vitro and in vivo cellular responses towards these scaffolds with different initial stiffness and hierarchical interconnected porous structure. The viability of mouse embryonic dermal fibroblasts in vitro and the tissue responses during the stiffness softening of the scaffolds subcutaneously implanted in rats for three months were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and histology. Scaffolds with a higher initial stiffness and a hierarchical porous structure outperformed softer ones, providing initial mechanical support to cells and surrounding tissues before promoting cell and tissue growth during stiffness softening. Vascularization was guided throughout the digitally printed interconnected networks. All scaffolds exhibited polarization of the macrophage
    response from a macrophage phenotype type I (M1) towards a macrophage phenotype type II (M2) and down-regulation of the T-cell proliferative response with increasing implantation time; however, scaffolds with a more pronounced thermo-responsive stiffness memory mechanism exerted higher inflammo-informed effects. These results pave the way for personalized and biologically responsive soft tissue implants and implantable device with better mechanical matches, angiogenesis and tissue integration.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalActa Biomaterialia
    Early online date14 Dec 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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