Biomacromolecules, Vol.14, No.5, 1349-1360, 2013
Engineering the Microstructure of Electrospun Fibrous Scaffolds by Microtopography
Controlling the structure and organization of electrospun fibers is desirable for fabricating scaffolds and materials with defined microstructures. However, the effects of microtopography on the deposition and, in turn, the organization of the electrospun fibers are not well understood. In this study, conductive polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) templates with different micropatterns were fabricated by combining photolithography, silicon wet etching, and PDMS molding techniques. The fiber organization was varied by fine-tuning the microtopography of the electrospinning collector. Fiber conformity and alignment were influenced by the depth and the slope of microtopography features, resulting in scaffolds comprising either an array of microdomains with different porosity and fiber alignment or an array of rnicrowells. Microtopography affected the fiber organization for hundreds of micrometers below the scaffold surface, resulting in scaffolds with distinct surface properties on each side. In addition, the fiber diameter was also affected by the fiber conformity. The effects of the fiber arrangement in the scaffolds on the morphology, migration, and infiltration of cells were examined by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Cell morphology and organization were guided by the fibers in the microdomains, and cell migration was enhanced by the aligned fibers and the three-dimensional scaffold structure. Cell infiltration was correlated with the microdomain porosity. Microscale control of the fiber organization and the porosity at the surface and through the thickness of the fibrous scaffolds, as demonstrated by the results of this study, provides a powerful means of engineering the three-dimensional structure of electrospun fibrous scaffolds for cell and tissue engineering.