An emerging approach to repair and replace a great number of the ligament and tendon injuries that occur each year is the use of tissue engineering principles to fabricate replacement tissues. One of the current challenges in tendon/ligament tissue engineering is fabricating scaffolds that possess both the proper mechanical and biological properties. A promising strategy to produce such scaffolds is electrospinning. Electrospinning uses a high-voltage power supply to draw viscous polymer solutions into ultra-fine fibers with nanometer-scale diameters, thus structurally mimicking native extracellular matrix components, such as collagen fibrils. Nano-scale fibers have been previously shown to enhance cellular proliferation, as well as stimulate cells to maintain morphology and phenotype when compared to scaffolds composed of larger fibers [1]. Furthermore, electrospinning provides researchers the flexibility of fabricating aligned scaffolds with isotropic mechanical properties to mimic native tissue mechanics [2]. However, scaffolds composed of aligned electrospun nanofibers often do not possess the elasticity and tensile strength required to properly carry out the mechanical function of tendon/ligament tissues. One approach that has been used to enhance mechanical properties of fibrous scaffolds is to weave multiple fibrous bundles into a braided scaffold. [3]. In this study, we fabricated a novel tendon/ligament tissue engineering scaffold that combines enhanced biological properties of electrospun scaffolds with enhanced mechanical properties through braiding. Furthermore, our approach offers the versatility to tailor tensile strength and elasticity of the braided scaffolds simply by varying the pattern of braiding, making it possible for researchers to construct tendon/ligament scaffolds with various mechanical properties.

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