A porcine calvaria defect study was carried out to investigate the bone repair potential of three-dimensional (3D)-printed poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL) scaffolds embedded with nanoporous PCL. A microscopic grid network was created by rapid prototyping making a 3D-fused deposition model (FDM-PCL). Afterward, the FDM-PCL scaffolds were infused with a mixture of PCL, water, and 1,4-dioxane and underwent a thermal-induced phase separation (TIPS) followed by lyophilization. The TIPS process lead to a nanoporous structure shielded by the printed microstructure (NSP-PCL). Sixteen Landrace pigs were divided into two groups with 8 and 12 weeks follow-up, respectively. A total of six nonpenetrating holes were drilled in the calvaria of each animal. The size of the cylindrical defects was h 10 mm and Ø 10 mm. The defects were distributed randomly using following groups: (a) NSP-PCL scaffold, (b) FDM-PCL scaffold, (c) autograft, (d) empty defect, (a1) NSP-PCL scaffold + autologous mononuclear cells, and (a2) NSP-PCL scaffold + bone morphogenetic protein 2. Bone volume to total volume was analyzed using microcomputed tomography (µCT) and histomorphometry. The µCT and histological data showed significantly less bone formation in the NSP-PCL scaffolds in all three variations after both 8 and 12 weeks compared to all other groups. The positive autograft control had significantly higher new bone formation compared to all other groups except the FDM-PCL when analyzed using histomorphometry. The NSP-PCL scaffolds were heavily infiltrated with foreign body giant cells suggesting an inflammatory response and perhaps active resorption of the scaffold material. The unmodified FDM-PCL scaffold showed good osteoconductivity and osseointegration after both 8 and 12 weeks.
Journal of Biomedical Materials Research. Part a, 2014, Vol 102, Issue 9, p. 2993-3003