Recent advances in shape memory polymers have enabled the study of programmable, shape-changing, cytocompatible tissue engineering scaffolds. For treatment of bone defects, scaffolds with shape memory functionality have been studied for their potential for minimally invasive delivery, conformal fitting to defect margins, and defect stabilization. However, the extent to which the osteogenic differentiation capacity of stem cells resident in shape memory scaffolds is preserved following programmed shape change has not yet been determined. As a result, the feasibility of shape memory polymer scaffolds being employed in stem cell-based treatment strategies remains unclear. To test the hypothesis that stem cell osteogenic differentiation can be preserved during and following triggering of programmed architectural changes in shape memory polymer scaffolds, human adipose-derived stem cells were seeded in shape memory polymer foam scaffolds or in shape memory polymer fibrous scaffolds programmed to expand or contract, respectively, when warmed to body temperature. Osteogenic differentiation in shape-changing and control scaffolds was compared using mineral deposition, protein production, and gene expression assays. For both shape-changing and control scaffolds, qualitatively and quantitatively comparable amounts of mineral deposition were observed; comparable levels of alkaline phosphatase activity were measured; and no significant differences in the expression of genetic markers of osteogenesis were detected. These findings support the feasibility of employing shape memory in scaffolds for stem cell-based therapies for bone repair.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering