A biocompatible tissue scaffold produced by supercritical fluid processing for cartilage tissue engineering

Su Hee Kim, Youngmee Jung, Soo Hyun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Supercritical fluids are used in various industrial fields, such as the food and medical industries, because they have beneficial physical and chemical properties and are also nonflammable and inexpensive. In particular, supercritical carbon dioxide (ScCO2) is attractive due to its mild critical temperature, pressure values, and nontoxicity. Poly(L-lactide-co- É-caprolactone) (PLCL), which is a biocompatible, biodegradable, and very elastic polymer, has been used in cartilage tissue engineering. However, organic solvents, such as chloroform or dichloromethane, are usually used for the fabrication of a PLCL scaffold through conventional methods. This leads to a cytotoxic effect and long processing time for removing solvents. To alleviate these problems, supercritical fluid processing is introduced here. In this study, we fabricated a mechano-active PLCL scaffold by supercritical fluid processing for cartilage tissue engineering, and we compared it with a scaffold made by a conventional solvent-casting method in terms of physical and biological performance. Also, to examine the optimum condition for preparing scaffolds with ScCO2, we investigated the effects of pressure, temperature, and the depressurization rate on PLCL foaming. The PLCL scaffolds produced by supercritical fluid processing had a homogeneously interconnected porous structure, and they exhibited a narrow pore size distribution. Also, there was no cytotoxicity of the scaffolds made with ScCO2 compared to the scaffolds made by the solvent-pressing method. The scaffolds were seeded with chondrocytes, and they were subcutaneously implanted into nude mice for up to 4 weeks. In vivo accumulation of extracellular matrix of cell-scaffold constructs demonstrated that the PLCL scaffold made with ScCO2 formed a mature and well-developed cartilaginous tissue compared to the PLCL scaffold formed by solvent pressing. Consequently, these results indicated that the PLCL scaffolds made by supercritical fluid processing offer well-interconnected and nontoxic substrates for cell growth, avoiding problems associated with a solvent residue. This suggests that these elastic PLCL scaffolds formed by supercritical fluid processing could be used for cartilage tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalTissue Engineering - Part C: Methods
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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