Preparation and characterization of a novel drug-loaded Bi-layer scaffold for cartilage regeneration
The picture shows the preparation process of the cartilage scaffold, in which the hydrogel layer is loaded with aescin sodium, and the fiber layer is loaded with kartogenin. The incidence of articular cartilage defects is increasing year by year. In order to repair the cartilage tissue at the defect, scaffolds with nanofiber structure and biocompatibility have become a research hotspot. In this study, we designed and fabricated a bi-layer scaffold prepared from an upper layer of drug-dispersed gelatin methacrylate (GELMA) hydrogel and a lower layer of a drug-encapsulated coaxial fiber scaffold prepared from silk fiber (SF) and polylactic acid (PLA). These bi-layer scaffolds have porosity (91.26 ± 3.94%) sufficient to support material exchange and pore size suitable for cell culture and infiltration, as well as mechanical properties (2.65 ± 0.31 MPa) that meet the requirements of cartilage tissue engineering. The coaxial fiber structure exhibited excellent drug release properties, maintaining drug release for 14 days in PBS. In vitro experiments indicated that the scaffolds were not toxic to cells and were amenable to chondrocyte migration. Notably, the growth of cells in a bi-layer scaffold presented two states. In the hydrogel layer, cells grow through interconnected pores and take on a connective tissue-like shape. In the coaxial fiber layer, cells grow on the surface of the coaxial fiber mats and appeared tablet-like. This is similar to the structure of the functional partitions of natural cartilage tissue. Together, the bi-layer scaffold can play a positive role in cartilage regeneration, which could be a potential therapeutic choice to solve the current problems of clinical cartilage repair.