Biofabrication of bundles of poly(lactic acid)-collagen blends mimicking the fascicles of the human Achille tendon

Alberto Sensini, Chiara Gualandi, Luca Cristofolini, Gianluca Tozzi, Manuela Dicarlo, Gabriella Teti, Monica Mattioli-Belmonte, Maria Letizia Focarete

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Electrospinning is a promising technique for the production of scaffolds aimed at the regeneration of soft tissues. The aim of this work was to develop electrospun bundles mimicking the architecture and mechanical properties of the fascicles of the human Achille tendon. Two different blends of poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and collagen (Coll) were tested, PLLA/Coll-75/25 and PLLA/Coll-50/50, and compared with bundles of pure PLLA. First, a complete physico-chemical characterization was performed on non-woven mats made of randomly arranged fibers. The presence of collagen in the fibers was assessed by thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and water contact angle measurements. The collagen release in phosphate buffer solution (PBS) was evaluated for 14 days: results showed that collagen loss was about 50% for PLLA/Coll-75/25 and 70% for PLLA/Coll-50/50. In the bundles, the individual fibers had a diameter of 0.48± 0.14 µm (PLLA), 0.31±0.09 µm (PLLA/Coll-75/25), 0.33±0.08 µm (PLLA/Coll-50/50), whereas bundle diameter was in the range 300-500 µm for all samples. Monotonic tensile tests were performed to measure the mechanical properties of PLLA bundles (as-spun) and of PLLA/Coll-75/25 and PLLA/Coll-50/50 bundles (as-spun, and after 48 hour, 7 days and 14 days in PBS). The most promising material was the PLLA/Coll-75/25 blend with a Young modulus of 98.6±12.4 MPa (as-spun) and 205.1±73.0 MPa (after 14 days in PBS). Its failure stress was 14.2±0.7 MPa (as-spun) and 6.8±0.6 MPa (after 14 days in PBS). Pure PLLA withstood slightly lower stress than the PLLA/Coll-75/25 while PLLA/Coll-50/50 had a brittle behavior. Human-derived tenocytes were used for cellular tests. A good cell adhesion and viability after 14 day culture was observed. This study has therefore demonstrated the feasibility of fabricating electrospun bundles with multiscale structure and mechanical properties similar to the human tendon.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Early online date22 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2017


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