Mixed polymer and bioconjugate core/shell electrospun fibres for biphasic protein release†
Effective regenerative medicine requires delivery systems which can release multiple components at appropriate levels and at different phases of tissue growth and repair. However, there are few biomaterials and encapsulation techniques that are fully suitable for the loading and controlled release of multiple proteins. In this study we describe how proteins were physically and chemically loaded into a single coaxial electrospun fibre scaffold to obtain bi-phasic release profiles. Cyto-compatible polymers were used to construct the scaffold, using polyethylene oxide (PEO) for the core and polycaprolactone (PCL) reacted or mixed with (bis-aminopropyl)polyether (Jeffamine ED2003; JFA) for the shell. Horseradish peroxidase (HRP), a model protein, was loaded in the core and functionalised onto the scaffold surface by coupling of protein carboxyl groups to the available polymer amine groups. Fibre morphologies were evaluated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and functional group content was determined using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF SIMS). Hydrophobicity profiles of the fibres before and after protein loading were evaluated by water contact angle (WCA) and the mechanical properties of the electrospun scaffolds were determined by performing tensile tests. The electrospun fibre scaffolds generated by reacting PEO/PCL with 1,6-diaminohexane and those from mixing PEO/PCL with JFA were further characterised for protein conjugation and release. Fibres prepared by the mixed PEO/PCL/JFA system were found to be the most appropriate for the simultaneous release of protein from the core and the immobilisation of another protein on the shell of the same scaffold. Moreover, JFA enhanced scaffold properties in terms of porosity and elasticity. Finally, we successfully demonstrated the cytocompatibility and cell response to protein-loaded and -conjugated scaffolds using HepG2 cells. Enhanced cell attachment (2.5 fold) was demonstrated using bovine serum albumin (BSA)-conjugated scaffolds, and increased metabolic activity observed with retinoic acid (RA)-loaded scaffolds (2.7 fold).