The in vitro mimicking of bone microenvironment for the study of pathologies is a challenging field that requires the design of scaffolds with suitable morphological, structural and cytocompatible properties. During last years, 3D in vitro tumour models have been developed to reproduce mechanical, biochemical and structural bone microenvironment elements, allowing cells to behave as in vivo.
In this work, gas foamed polyether urethane foams (PUF) and 3D printed thermoplastic polyether urethane (3DP-PU) designed with different patterns are proposed as scaffolds for in vitro model of bone tissue. Surface coatings for a biomimetic behaviour of the 3D scaffold models were also investigated. Morphological, chemico-physical, mechanical properties, and biological in vitro behaviour were investigated.
PUFs for metastases investigation. The suitability of PUF as 3D in vitro model to study the interactions between bone tumour initiating cells and the bone microenvironment was investigated. PUF open porosity (>70%) appeared suitable to mimic trabecular bone structure. Human adipose derived stem cells (ADSC) were cultured and differentiated into osteoblast lineage on the PU foam, as confirmed by Alizarin Red staining and RT-PCR, thus offering a bone biomimetic microenvironment to the further co-culture with bone derived tumour-initiating cells (MCFS). Tumour aggregates were observed after three weeks of co-culture by e-cadherin staining and SEM; modification in CaP distribution was identified by SEM-EDX and associated to the presence of tumour cells.
3DP-PU as tumour bone model. 3D printed scaffolds have pores with a precise and regular geometry (0°-90°, 0°-45°-90°-135°, 0°-60°-120°). PU scaffold porosity evidenced values from 55 to 67%, values that belong to the porosity range of the trabecular bone tissue (30-90%). The compressive modulus varied between 2 and 4 MPa, depending on the printed pattern. Biomimetic nanostructured coating was performed on 0-90° 3DP-PU by Ionized Jet Deposition. Coatings had a submicrometric thickness, variable tuning deposition time, nanostructured surface morphology and biomimetic composition. Coating on 3DP-PU promoted cells colonization of the whole porous scaffolds, compared to the controls, where cells concentrated mostly on the outer layers.
In conclusion, based on the obtained results, scaffolds with different geometries have been successfully produced. Morphological and structural properties of the scaffolds here presented are suitable for mimicking the bone tissue, in order to produce a 3D in vitro model useful for bone pathologies research.