, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 1659-1670
Date: 27 Apr 2013

A novel porous scaffold fabrication technique for epithelial and endothelial tissue engineering

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Porous scaffolds have the ability to minimize transport barriers for both two- (2D) and three-dimensional tissue engineering. However, current porous scaffolds may be non-ideal for 2D tissues such as epithelium due to inherent fabrication-based characteristics. While 2D tissues require porosity to support molecular transport, pores must be small enough to prevent cell migration into the scaffold in order to avoid non-epithelial tissue architecture and compromised function. Though electrospun meshes are the most popular porous scaffolds used today, their heterogeneous pore size and intense topography may be poorly-suited for epithelium. Porous scaffolds produced using other methods have similar unavoidable limitations, frequently involving insufficient pore resolution and control, which make them incompatible with 2D tissues. In addition, many of these techniques require an entirely new round of process development in order to change material or pore size. Herein we describe “pore casting,” a fabrication method that produces flat scaffolds with deterministic pore shape, size, and location that can be easily altered to accommodate new materials or pore dimensions. As proof-of-concept, pore-cast poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) scaffolds were fabricated and compared to electrospun PCL in vitro using canine kidney epithelium, human colon epithelium, and human umbilical vein endothelium. All cell types demonstrated improved morphology and function on pore-cast scaffolds, likely due to reduced topography and universally small pore size. These results suggest that pore casting is an attractive option for creating 2D tissue engineering scaffolds, especially when the application may benefit from well-controlled pore size or architecture.