Gomes, S., Rodrigues, G., Martins, G.G., Henriques, C. & Carvalho Silva, J. (2017) Evaluation of nanofibrous scaffolds obtained from blends of chitosan, gelatin and polycaprolactone for skin tissue engineering.International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 102, 1174-1185. DOI:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2017.05.004 (IF2017 3,909; Q1 Chemistry, applied)
Polymer blending is a strategy commonly used to obtain hybrid materials possessing properties better than those of the individual constituents regarding their use in scaffolds for Tissue Engineering. In the present work, the scaffolds produced by electrospinning solutions of polymeric blends obtained using a polyester (polycaprolactone, PCL), a polysaccharide (chitosan, CS) and a protein (gelatin extracted from cold water fish skin, GEL), were investigated. Solutions conductivity, shear viscosity and surface tension were determined. GEL-containing scaffolds were crosslinked with vapour phase glutaraldehyde (GTA). The scaffolds were characterized physico-chemically regarding fibre morphology, porosity, water contact angle, mechanical properties, chemical bonds and fibre and dimensional stability upon immersion in water and cell culture medium. The scaffolds were further tested in vitro for cell adhesion, growth and morphology of human foetal fibroblasts (cell line HFFF2). Results show that the nanofibrous scaffolds are hydrophilic and display the typical porosity of non-woven fibre mats. The CS/PCL and CS/PCL/GEL scaffolds have the highest elastic modulus (48 MPa). Dimensional stability is best for the CS/PCL/GEL scaffolds. FTIR spectra confirm the occurrence of cross-linking reactions of GTA with both GEL and CS. Cell adhesion ratio ranked from excellent (close to 100%) to satisfactory (around 50%) in the order PCL/GEL > CS/GEL > CS/PCL/GEL > CS/PCL. Cell populations show an extended lag phase in comparison with the controls but cell proliferation occurs on all scaffolds until confluence is reached. In conclusion, all scaffolds studied possess characteristics that enable them to be used in skin tissue engineering but the CS/PCL/GEL scaffolds have better physical properties whereas the PCL/GEL scaffolds support a higher cell adhesion.