3D Printed Dual-Porosity Scaffolds: The Combined Effect of Stiffness and Porosity in the Modulation of Macrophage Polarization

S. Camarero-Espinosa, M. Carlos-Oliveira, H. Liu, J.F. Mano, N. Bouvy, L. Moroni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Tissue regeneration evolves toward the biofabrication of sophisticated 3D scaffolds. However, the success of these will be contingent to their capability to integrate within the host. The control of the mechanical or topographical properties of the implant appears as an ideal method to modulate the immune response. However, the interplay between these properties is yet not clear. Dual-porosity scaffolds with varying mechanical and topographical features are created, and their immunomodulatory properties in rat alveolar macrophages in vitro and in vivo in a rat subcutaneous model are evaluated. Scaffolds are fabricated via additive manufacturing and thermally induced phase separation methods from two copolymers with virtually identical chemistries, but different stiffness. The introduction of porosity enables the modulation of macrophages toward anti-inflammatory phenotypes, with secretion of IL-10 and TGF-beta. Soft scaffolds (<5 kPa) result in a pro-inflammatory phenotype in contrast to stiffer (>40 kPa) scaffolds of comparable porosities supporting a pro-healing phenotype, which appears to be related to the surface spread area of cells. In vivo, stiff scaffolds integrate, while softer scaffolds appear encapsulated after three weeks of implantation, resulting in chronic inflammation after six weeks. The results demonstrate the importance of evaluating the interplay between topography and stiffness of candidate scaffolds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2101415
Number of pages16
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • 3D printing
  • dual-porosity
  • immunomodulation
  • macrophage polarization


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