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The Effects of Scaffold Architecture and Fibrin Gel Addition on Tendon Cell Phenotype

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Pawelec, KM 
Wardale, Robert 


Development of tissue engineering scaffolds relies on careful selection of pore architecture and chemistry of the cellular environment. Repair of skeletal soft tissue, such as tendon, is particularly challenging, since these tissues have a relatively poor healing response. When removed from their native environment, tendon cells (tenocytes) lose their characteristic morphology and the expression of phenotypic markers. To stimulate tendon cells to recreate a healthy extracellular matrix, both architectural cues and fibrin gels have been used in the past, however, their relative effects have not been studied systematically. Within this study, a combination of collagen scaffold architecture, axial and isotropic, and fibrin gel addition was assessed, using ovine tendon-derived cells to determine the optimal strategy for controlling the proliferation and protein expression. Scaffold architecture and fibrin gel addition influenced tendon cell behavior independently in vitro. Addition of fibrin gel within a scaffold doubled cell number and increased matrix production for all architectures studied. However, scaffold architecture dictated the type of matrix produced by cells, regardless of fibrin addition. Axial scaffolds, mimicking native tendon, promoted a mature matrix, with increased tenomodulin, a marker for mature tendon cells, and decreased scleraxis, an early transcription factor for connective tissue. This study demonstrated that both architectural cues and fibrin gel addition alter cell behaviour and that the combination of these signals could improve clinical performance of current tissue engineering constructs.



Journal Title

Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine

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European Research Council (320598)