Modular and Versatile Spatial Functionalization of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds through Fiber-Initiated Controlled Radical Polymerization.
Harrison RH., Steele JAM., Chapman R., Gormley AJ., Chow LW., Mahat MM., Podhorska L., Palgrave RG., Payne DJ., Hettiaratchy SP., Dunlop IE., Stevens MM.
Native tissues are typically heterogeneous and hierarchically organized, and generating scaffolds that can mimic these properties is critical for tissue engineering applications. By uniquely combining controlled radical polymerization (CRP), end-functionalization of polymers, and advanced electrospinning techniques, a modular and versatile approach is introduced to generate scaffolds with spatially organized functionality. Poly-ε-caprolactone is end functionalized with either a polymerization-initiating group or a cell-binding peptide motif cyclic Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser (cRGDS), and are each sequentially electrospun to produce zonally discrete bilayers within a continuous fiber scaffold. The polymerization-initiating group is then used to graft an antifouling polymer bottlebrush based on poly(ethylene glycol) from the fiber surface using CRP exclusively within one bilayer of the scaffold. The ability to include additional multifunctionality during CRP is showcased by integrating a biotinylated monomer unit into the polymerization step allowing postmodification of the scaffold with streptavidin-coupled moieties. These combined processing techniques result in an effective bilayered and dual-functionality scaffold with a cell-adhesive surface and an opposing antifouling non-cell-adhesive surface in zonally specific regions across the thickness of the scaffold, demonstrated through fluorescent labelling and cell adhesion studies. This modular and versatile approach combines strategies to produce scaffolds with tailorable properties for many applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.