Bioinspired Hierarchical Carbon Structures as Potential Scaffolds for Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration Applications
Engineered bio-scaffolds for wound healing provide an attractive treatment option for tissue engineering and traumatic skin injuries since they can reduce dependence on donors and promote faster repair through strategic surface engineering. Current scaffolds present limitations in handling, preparation, shelf life, and sterilization options. In this study, bio-inspired hierarchical all-carbon structures comprising carbon nanotube (CNT) carpets covalently bonded to flexible carbon fabric have been investigated as a platform for cell growth and future tissue regeneration applications. CNTs are known to provide guidance for cell growth, but loose CNTs are susceptible to intracellular uptake and are suspected to cause in vitro and in vivo cytotoxicity. This risk is suppressed in these materials due to the covalent attachment of CNTs on a larger fabric, and the synergistic benefits of nanoscale and micro-macro scale architectures, as seen in natural biological materials, can be obtained. The structural durability, biocompatibility, tunable surface architecture, and ultra-high specific surface area of these materials make them attractive candidates for wound healing. In this study, investigations of cytotoxicity, skin cell proliferation, and cell migration were performed, and results indicate promise in both biocompatibility and directed cell growth. Moreover, these scaffolds provided cytoprotection against environmental stressors such as Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. It was seen that cell growth could also be tailored through the control of CNT carpet height and surface wettability. These results support future promise in the design of hierarchical carbon scaffolds for strategic wound healing and tissue regeneration applications.