Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590, USA; Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Biological Sciences and Chemical and Biological Engineering, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Cell-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) has been employed as scaffolds for tissue engineering, creating a biomimetic microenvironment that provides physical, chemical and mechanical cues for cells and supports cell adhesion, proliferation, migration and differentiation by mimicking their in vivo microenvironment. Despite the enhanced bioactivity of cell-derived ECM, its application as a scaffold to regenerate hard tissues such as bone is still hampered by its insufficient mechanical properties. The combination of cell-derived ECM with synthetic biomaterials might result in an effective strategy to enhance scaffold mechanical properties and structural support. Electrospinning has been used in bone tissue engineering to fabricate fibrous and porous scaffolds, mimicking the hierarchical organized fibrillar structure and architecture found in the ECM. Although the structure of the scaffold might be similar to ECM architecture, most of these electrospun scaffolds have failed to achieve functionality due to a lack of bioactivity and osteoinductive factors. In this study, we developed bioactive cell-derived ECM electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds produced from ECM derived from human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSC), human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and their combination based on the hypothesis that the cell-derived ECM incorporated into the PCL fibers would enhance the biofunctionality of the scaffold. The aims of this study were to fabricate and characterize cell-derived ECM electrospun PCL scaffolds and assess their ability to enhance osteogenic differentiation of MSCs, envisaging bone tissue engineering applications. Our findings demonstrate that all cell-derived ECM electrospun scaffolds promoted significant cell proliferation compared to PCL alone, while presenting similar physical/mechanical properties. Additionally, MSC:HUVEC-ECM electrospun scaffolds significantly enhanced osteogenic differentiation of MSCs as verified by increased ALP activity and osteogenic gene expression levels. To our knowledge, these results describe the first study suggesting that MSC:HUVEC-ECM might be developed as a biomimetic electrospun scaffold for bone tissue engineering applications.