Fabrication of chitosan/poly(ε-caprolactone) composite hydrogels for tissue engineering applications
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The aim of this study was to fabricate three-dimensional (3D) porous chitosan/poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) hydrogels with improved mechanical properties for tissue engineering applications. A modified emulsion lyophilisation technique was developed to produce 3D chitosan/PCL hydrogels. The addition of 25 and 50 wt% of PCL into chitosan substantially enhanced the compressive strength of composite hydrogel 160 and 290%, respectively, compared to pure chitosan hydrogel. The result of ATR–FTIR imaging corroborated that PCL and chitosan were well mixed and physically co-existed in the composite structures. The composite hydrogels were constructed of homogenous structure with average pore size of 59.7 ± 14 μm and finer pores with average size of 4.4 ± 2 μm on the wall of these larger pores. The SEM and confocal laser scanning microscopy images confirmed that fibroblast cells were attached and proliferated on the 3D structure of these composite hydrogels. The composite hydrogels acquired in this study possessed homogeneous porous structure with improved mechanical strength and integrity. They may have a high potential for the production of 3D hydrogels for tissue engineering applications.