Electrospun acellular scaffolds for mimicking the natural anisotropy of the extracellular matrix†
In tissue engineering, the use of scaffolds helps establish a synergistic relationship between the scaffolds and the tissues by improving cell–scaffold interaction. This interaction is enhanced when physiologically relevant biophysical cues are replicated in the artificial scaffolds. Here, we present a novel scaffold that mimics the natural anisotropy of the native extracellular matrix of tissues, fabricated by electrospinning a combination of three polymers: polycaprolactone (PCL), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) and polyaniline (PANI). The scaffolds were characterized for their morphology, surface and mechanical properties. Rat cardiomyoblast (H9c2) cells, cultured on the PCL–PANI–PVDF scaffold, demonstrated cell alignment, penetration and proliferation across the entire surface area of the scaffold without any external chemical or physical stimuli. The PCL–PANI–PVDF scaffold, unlike other scaffolds, does not require post-processing or specific temperature conditions of storage, prior to use. These acellular scaffolds fabricated through polymer blending, open new avenues for research on functional acellular scaffolds for tissue engineering, based on synthetic materials.