Fabrication of Nanopores Polylactic Acid Microtubes by Core-Sheath Electrospinning for Capillary Vascularization
Tan, George Z.
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There has been substantial progress in tissue engineering of biological substitutes for medical applications. One of the major challenges in development of complex tissues is the difficulty of creating vascular networks for engineered constructs. The diameter of current artificial vascular channels is usually at millimeter or submillimeter level, while human capillaries are about 5 to 10 µm in diameter. In this paper, a novel core-sheath electrospinning process was adopted to fabricate nanoporous microtubes to mimic the structure of fenestrated capillary vessels. A mixture of polylactic acid (PLA) and polyethylene glycol (PEO) was used as the sheath solution and PEO was used as the core solution. The microtubes were observed under a scanning electron microscope and the images were analyzed by ImageJ. The diameter of the microtubes ranged from 1–8 microns. The diameter of the nanopores ranged from 100 to 800 nm. The statistical analysis showed that the microtube diameter was significantly influenced by the PEO ratio in the sheath solution, pump rate, and the viscosity gradient between the sheath and the core solution. The electrospun microtubes with nanoscale pores highly resemble human fenestrated capillaries. Therefore, the nanoporous microtubes have great potential to support vascularization in engineered tissues.