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Mechanical properties and in vivo behavior of a biodegradable synthetic polymer microfiber–extracellular matrix hydrogel biohybrid scaffold

Hong, Yi, Huber, Alexander, Takanari, Keisuke, Amoroso, Nicholas J., Hashizume, Ryotaro, Badylak, Stephen F., Wagner, William R.
Biomaterials 2011 v.32 no.13 pp. 3387-3394
biocompatibility, biodegradability, electron microscopy, extracellular matrix, gels, hydrocolloids, mechanical properties, polymers, rats, swine, tissue repair, urea, urethane
A biohybrid composite consisting of extracellular matrix (ECM) gel from porcine dermal tissue and biodegradable elastomeric fibers was generated and evaluated for soft tissue applications. ECM gel possesses attractive biocompatibility and bioactivity with weak mechanical properties and rapid degradation, while electrospun biodegradable poly(ester urethane)urea (PEUU) has good mechanical properties but limited cellular infiltration and tissue integration. A concurrent gel electrospray/polymer electrospinning method was employed to create ECM gel/PEUU fiber composites with attractive mechanical properties, including high flexibility and strength. Electron microscopy revealed a structure of interconnected fibrous layers embedded in ECM gel. Tensile mechanical properties could be tuned by altering the PEUU/ECM weight ratio. Scaffold tensile strengths for PEUU/ECM ratios of 67/33, 72/28 and 80/20 ranged from 80 to 187 kPa in the longitudinal axis (parallel to the collecting mandrel axis) and 41–91 kPa in the circumferential axis with 645–938% breaking strains. The 72/28 biohybrid composite and a control scaffold generated from electrospun PEUU alone were implanted into Lewis rats, replacing a full-thickness abdominal wall defect. At 4 wk, no infection or herniation was found at the implant site. Histological staining showed extensive cellular infiltration into the biohybrid scaffold with the newly developed tissue well integrated with the native periphery, while minimal cellular ingress into the electrospun PEUU scaffold was observed. Mechanical testing of explanted constructs showed evidence of substantial remodeling, with composite scaffolds adopting properties more comparable to the native abdominal wall. The described elastic biohybrid material imparts features of ECM gel bioactivity with PEUU strength and handling to provide a promising composite biomaterial for soft tissue repair and replacement.