Preparation, characterization and in vitro evaluation of electrically conducting poly(ε-caprolactone)-based nanocomposite scaffolds using PC12 cells
In the current study, we describe the synthesis, material characteristics and cytocompatibility of conducting poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) based nano-composite films. Electrically conducting carbon nano-fillers (carbon nano-fiber (CNF), nano-graphite (NG) and liquid exfoliated graphite (G)) were used to prepare porous film type scaffolds using modified solvent casting methods. The electrical conductivity of the nano-composite films was increased when carbon nano-fillers were incorporated in the PCL matrix. CNF based nano-composite films showed the highest increase in electrical conductivity. The presence of an ionic solution significantly improved the conductivity of some of the polymers, however at least 24 h was required to absorb the simulated ion solutions. CNF based nano-composite films were found to have good thermo-mechanical properties compared to other conducting polymer films due to better dispersion and alignment in the critical direction. Increased nano-filler content increased the crystallization temperature. Analysis of cell viability revealed no increase in cell death on any of the polymers compared to tissue culture plastic controls, or compared to PCL polymer without nano-composites. The scaffolds showed some variation when tested for PC12 cell attachment and proliferation, however all the polymers supported PC12 attachment and differentiation in the absence of cell adhesion molecules. In general, CNF based nano-composite films with highest electrical conductivity and moderate roughness showed highest cell attachment and proliferation. These polymers are promising candidates for use in neural applications in the area of bionics and tissue engineering due to their unique properties. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.