A Growth Factor-Free Co-Culture System of Osteoblasts and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells for the Evaluation of the Osteogenesis Potential of Melt-Electrowritten Polycaprolactone Scaffolds

Andreas Hammerl, Carlos E Diaz Cano, Elena M De-Juan-Pardo, Martijn van Griensven, Patrina S P Poh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Scaffolds made of biodegradable biomaterials are widely used to guide bone regeneration. Commonly, in vitro assessment of scaffolds' osteogenesis potential has been performed predominantly in monoculture settings. Hence, this study evaluated the potential of an unstimulated, growth factor-free co-culture system comprised of osteoblasts (OB) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) over monoculture of OB as an in vitro platform for screening of bone regeneration potential of scaffolds. Particularly, this study focuses on the osteogenic differentiation and mineralized matrix formation aspects of cells. The study was performed using scaffolds fabricated by means of a melt electrowriting (MEW) technique made of medical-grade polycaprolactone (PCL), with or without a surface coating of calcium phosphate (CaP). Qualitative results, i.e., cell morphology by fluorescence imaging and matrix mineralization by von Kossa staining, indicated the differences in cell behaviours in response to scaffolds' biomaterial. However, no obvious differences were noted between OB and OB+PBMC groups. Hence, quantitative investigation, i.e., alkaline phosphatase (ALP), tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) activities, and gene expression were quantitatively evaluated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), were evaluated only of PCL/CaP scaffolds cultured with OB+PBMC, while PCL/CaP scaffolds cultured with OB or PBMC acted as a control. Although this study showed no differences in terms of osteogenic differentiation and ECM mineralization, preliminary qualitative results indicate an obvious difference in the cell/non-mineralized ECM density between scaffolds cultured with OB or OB+PBMC that could be worth further investigation. Collectively, the unstimulated, growth factor-free co-culture (OB+PBMC) system presented in this study could be beneficial for the pre-screening of scaffolds' in vitro bone regeneration potential prior to validation in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1068
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium Phosphates/chemistry
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques/methods
  • Humans
  • Monocytes/cytology
  • Osteoblasts/cytology
  • Osteogenesis
  • Polyesters/chemistry
  • Tissue Engineering/methods
  • Tissue Scaffolds/chemistry
  • human primary cells
  • bone tissue engineering
  • calcium phosphate
  • melt electrowriting

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