Mechanical properties and cellular response of novel electrospun nanofibers for ligament tissue engineering: Effects of orientation and geometry


Electrospun nanofibers are a promising material for ligamentous tissue engineering, however weak mechanical properties of fibers to date have limited their clinical usage. The goal of this work was to modify electrospun nanofibers to create a robust structure that mimics the complex hierarchy of native tendons and ligaments. The scaffolds that were fabricated in this study consisted of either random or aligned nanofibers in flat sheets or rolled nanofiber bundles that mimic the size scale of fascicle units in primarily tensile load bearing soft musculoskeletal tissues. Altering nanofiber orientation and geometry significantly affected mechanical properties; most notably aligned nanofiber sheets had the greatest modulus; 125% higher than that of random nanofiber sheets; and 45% higher than aligned nanofiber bundles. Modifying aligned nanofiber sheets to form aligned nanofiber bundles also resulted in approximately 107% higher yield stresses and 140% higher yield strains. The mechanical properties of aligned nanofiber bundles were in the range of the mechanical properties of the native ACL: modulus=158±32 MPa, yield stress=57±23 MPa and yield strain=0.38±0.08. Adipose derived stem cells cultured on all surfaces remained viable and proliferated extensively over a 7 day culture period and cells elongated on nanofiber bundles. The results of the study suggest that aligned nanofiber bundles may be useful for ligament and tendon tissue engineering based on their mechanical properties and ability to support cell adhesion, proliferation, and elongation.

Publication Title

Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials