Highly porous scaffolds of PEDOT:PSS for bone tissue engineering.

27 Mar 2018

Conjugated polymers have been increasingly considered for the design of conductive materials in the field of regenerative medicine. However, optimal scaffold properties addressing the complexity of the desired tissue still need to be developed. The focus of this study lies in the development and evaluation of a conductive scaffold for bone tissue engineering. In this study PEDOT:PSS scaffolds were designed and evaluated in vitro using MC3T3-E1 osteogenic precursor cells, and the cells were assessed for distinct differentiation stages and the expression of an osteogenic phenotype. Ice-templated PEDOT:PSS scaffolds presented high pore interconnectivity with a median pore diameter of 53.6±5.9µm and a total pore surface area of 7.72±1.7m2·g-1. The electrical conductivity, based on I-V curves, was measured to be 140µS·cm-1 with a reduced, but stable conductivity of 6.1µS·cm-1 after 28days in cell culture media. MC3T3-E1 gene expression levels of ALPL, COL1A1 and RUNX2 were significantly enhanced after 4weeks, in line with increased extracellular matrix mineralisation, and osteocalcin deposition. These results demonstrate that a porous material, based purely on PEDOT:PSS, is suitable as a scaffold for bone tissue engineering and thus represents a promising candidate for regenerative medicine. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Tissue engineering approaches have been increasingly considered for the repair of non-union fractions, craniofacial reconstruction or large bone defect replacements. The design of complex biomaterials and successful engineering of 3-dimensional tissue constructs is of paramount importance to meet this clinical need. Conductive scaffolds, based on conjugated polymers, present interesting candidates to address the piezoelectric properties of bone tissue and to induce enhanced osteogenesis upon implantation. However, conductive scaffolds have not been investigated in vitro in great measure. To this end, we have developed a highly porous, electrically conductive scaffold based on PEDOT:PSS, and provide evidence that this purely synthetic material is a promising candidate for bone tissue engineering.