Engineered scaffolds for tissue-engineering should be designed to match the stiffness and strength of healthy tissues while maintaining an interconnected pore network and a reasonable porosity. In this work, we have used 3D-ploting technique to produce poly-LLactide (PLLA) macroporous scaffolds with two different pore sizes. The ability of these macroporous scaffolds to support chondrocyte attachment and viability were compared under static and dynamic loading in vitro. Moreover, the 3D-plotting technique was combined with porogen-leaching, leading to micro/macroporous scaffolds, so as to examine the effect of microporosity on the level of cell attachment and viability under similar loading condition.
Canine chondrocytes cells were seeded onto the scaffolds with different topologies, and the constructs were cultured for up to 2 weeks under static conditions or in a bioreactor under dynamic compressive strain of 10% strain, at a frequency of 1 Hz. The attachment and cell growth of chondrocytes were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and by MTT assay. A significant difference in cell attachment was observed in macroporous scaffolds with different pore sizes after one, 7, and 14 days. Cell viability in the scaffolds was enhanced with decreasing pore size and increasing microporosity level throughout the culture period. Chondrocyte viability in the scaffolds cultured under dynamic loading was significantly higher (p<0.05) than the scaffolds cultured statically. Dynamic cell culture of the scaffolds improved cell viability and decrease the time of in vitro culture when compared to statically cultured constructs. Optimizing culture conditions and scaffold properties could generate optimal tissue/constructs combination for cartilage repair.