Living nanofiber yarn-based woven biotextiles for tendon tissue engineering using cell tri-culture and mechanical stimulation

Shaohua Wu, Ying Wang, Philipp N. Streubel, Bin Duan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Non-woven nanofibrous scaffolds have been developed for tendon graft application by using electrospinning strategies. However, electrospun nanofibrous scaffolds face some obstacles and limitations, including suboptimal scaffold structure, weak tensile and suture-retention strengths, and compact structure for cell infiltration. In this work, a novel nanofibrous, woven biotextile, fabricated based on electrospun nanofiber yarns, was implemented as a tissue engineered tendon scaffold. Based on our modified electrospinning setup, polycaprolactone (PCL) nanofiber yarns were fabricated with reproducible quality, and were further processed into plain-weaving fabrics interlaced with polylactic acid (PLA) multifilaments. Nonwoven nanofibrous PCL meshes with random or aligned fiber structures were generated using typical electrospinning as comparative counterparts. The woven fabrics contained 3 D aligned microstructures with significantly larger pore size and obviously enhanced tensile mechanical properties than their nonwoven counterparts. The biological results revealed that cell proliferation and infiltration, along with the expression of tendon-specific genes by human adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells (HADMSC) and human tenocytes (HT), were significantly enhanced on the woven fabrics compared with those on randomly-oriented or aligned nanofiber meshes. Co-cultures of HADMSC with HT or human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) on woven fabrics significantly upregulated the functional expression of most tenogenic markers. HADMSC/HT/HUVEC tri-culture on woven fabrics showed the highest upregulation of most tendon-associated markers than all the other mono- and co-culture groups. Furthermore, we conditioned the tri-cultured constructs with dynamic conditioning and demonstrated that dynamic stretch promoted total collagen secretion and tenogenic differentiation. Our nanofiber yarn-based biotextiles have significant potential to be used as engineered scaffolds to synergize the multiple cell interaction and mechanical stimulation for promoting tendon regeneration. Statement of Significance Tendon grafts are essential for the treatment of various tendon-related conditions due to the inherently poor healing capacity of native tendon tissues. In this study, we combined electrospun nanofiber yarns with textile manufacturing strategies to fabricate nanofibrous woven biotextiles with hierarchical features, aligned fibrous topography, and sufficient mechanical properties as tendon tissue engineered scaffolds. Comparing to traditional electrospun random or aligned meshes, our novel nanofibrous woven fabrics possess strong tensile and suture-retention strengths and larger pore size. We also demonstrated that the incorporation of tendon cells and vascular cells promoted the tenogenic differentiation of the engineered tendon constructs, especially under dynamic stretch. This study not only presents a novel tissue engineered tendon scaffold fabrication technique but also provides a useful strategy to promote tendon differentiation and regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-115
Number of pages14
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Oct 15 2017


  • Cell co- and tri-culture
  • Electrospinning
  • Fiber alignment
  • Mechanical stimuli
  • Vascularization
  • Woven fabric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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