Biofabrication of a flexible and conductive 3D polymeric scaffold for neural tissue engineering applications; physical, chemical, mechanical, and biological evaluations
Tissue engineering approach aims to overcome the transplant drawbacks and facilitate tissue repair and regeneration. Here, a new conductive, highly porous, and flexible polycaprolactone/gelatin/polypyrrole/graphene 3D scaffolds for nerve tissue repair is presented. A simple and efficient porogen leaching fabrication method is applied to create a 3D network with a pore radius of 3.8?±?0.7 to 4.2?±?0.8 ?m with an exceptional uniform circular porous structure. The conductivity of the polymeric scaffold without graphene, in wet conditions, was found to be 0.78?±?0.1 S.m?1 and it increased to 3.3?±?0.2 S.m?1 for the optimized sample containing 3wt% graphene (G3). Tensile strength was measured at 163?KPa for the base sample (without graphene) and improved to 526?KPa for G3 sample. Following 42?days of incubation in PBS, 32.5% degradation for the base sample (without graphene) was observed. The cell study demonstrated a non?cytotoxic nature of all scaffolds tested and the cells had mostly stretched and covered the surface. Overall, the sum of results presented in this study demonstrate a simple fabrication platform with extraordinary aspects that can be utilized to mimic the native conductive tissue properties, and also because of its flexibility it can easily be rolled into a nerve conduit to fill gaps in nerve tissue regeneration.