Enhancement of synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins on retinoic acid loaded electrospun scaffolds†
Electrospinning is a renowned technique for the generation of ultrafine, micro- and nanoscale fibres due to its simplicity, versatility and tunability. Owing to its adaptability to a wide selection of materials and scaffold architectures, electrospun meshes have been developed as biocompatible scaffolds and drug delivery systems for tissue engineering. Here, we developed a drug delivery scaffold by electrospinning poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) directly blended with a therapeutic agent, retinoic acid (RA), at different concentrations. The release profile, DNA, and elastin analysis of direct and transwell seeded RA-loaded PCL electrospun scaffolds showed desirable controlled release at 15 kV fabrication, with 0.01% RA as the optimum concentration. The selected 0.01% (w/v) RA-loaded PCL meshes were further analysed using five different seeding cultures to investigate and extensively distinguish the effects of RA release with or without cell contact to the PCL electrospun meshes for cell morphology, proliferation and extracellular matrix (ECM) protein secretion of collagen and elastin. Upon exposure to RA-loaded PCL scaffolds, an increase of human dermal fibroblast (HDF) proliferation was observed. In contrast, human mesenchymal stromal cell (hMSC) cultures showed a decrease in cell proliferation. For both hMSC and HDF cultures, exposure to RA-loaded PCL scaffolds provided a significant increase in elastin production per cell. For collagen expression, a slight increase was measured and was outperformed by the 3D geometry stimulation from PCL scaffolds. In contrast to hMSCs, HDFs showed enhanced stress actin fibres in cultures with RA-loaded PCL scaffolds. Both cell types exhibited more vinculin expression when seeded to RA-loaded PCL scaffolds. Hence, electrospun scaffolds releasing RA in a controlled manner were able to regulate cell proliferation, morphology and ECM secretion, and present an attractive approach for optimizing tissue regeneration.