, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 983-993
Date: 20 Jul 2011

Solid freeform fabrication of designer scaffolds of hyaluronic acid for nerve tissue engineering

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The field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine will tremendously benefit from the development of three dimensional scaffolds with defined micro- and macro-architecture that replicate the geometry and chemical composition of native tissues. The current report describes a freeform fabrication technique that permits the development of nerve regeneration scaffolds with precisely engineered architecture that mimics that of native nerve, using the native extracellular matrix component hyaluronic acid (HA). To demonstrate the flexibility of the fabrication system, scaffolds exhibiting different geometries with varying pore shapes, sizes and controlled degradability were fabricated in a layer-by-layer fashion. To promote cell adhesion, scaffolds were covalently functionalized with laminin. This approach offers tremendous spatio-temporal flexibility to create architecturally complex structures such as scaffolds with branched tubes to mimic branched nerves at a plexus. We further demonstrate the ability to create bidirectional gradients within the microfabricated nerve conduits. We believe that combining the biological properties of HA with precise three dimensional micro-architecture could offer a useful platform for the development of a wide range of bioartificial organs.