Biocomposite films comprising a non-crosslinked, natural polymer (collagen) and a synthetic polymer, poly(var epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL), have been produced by impregnation of lyophilised collagen mats with a solution of PCL in dichloromethane followed by solvent evaporation. This approach avoids the toxicity problems associated with chemical crosslinking. Distinct changes in film morphology, from continuous surface coating to open porous format, were achieved by variation of processing parameters such as collagen:PCL ratio and the weight of the starting lyophilised collagen mat. Collagenase digestion indicated that the collagen content of 1:4 and 1:8 collagen:PCL biocomposites was almost totally accessible for enzymatic digestion indicating a high degree of collagen exposure for interaction with other ECM proteins or cells contacting the biomaterial surface. Much reduced collagen exposure (around 50%) was measured for the 1:20 collagen:PCL materials. These findings were consistent with the SEM examination of collagen:PCL biocomposites which revealed a highly porous morphology for the 1:4 and 1:8 blends but virtually complete coverage of the collagen component by PCL in the1:20 samples. Investigations of the attachment and spreading characteristics of human osteoblast (HOB) cells on PCL films and collagen:PCL materials respectively, indicated that HOB cells poorly recognised PCL but attachment and spreading were much improved on the biocomposites. The non-chemically crosslinked, collagen:PCL biocomposites described are expected to provide a useful addition to the range of biomaterials and matrix systems for tissue engineering.
- bone cells