In modern biomaterial design the generation of an environment mimicking some of the extracellular matrix features is envisaged to support molecular cross-talk between cells and scaffolds during tissue formation/remodeling. In bone substitutes chemical biomimesis has been particularly exploited; conversely, the relevance of pre-determined scaffold architecture for regenerated bone outputs is still unclear. Thus we aimed to demonstrate that a different organization of collagen fibers within newly formed bone under unloading conditions can be generated by differently architectured scaffolds. An ordered and confined geometry of hydroxyapatite foams concentrated collagen fibers within the pores, and triggered their self-assembly in a cholesteric-banded pattern, resulting in compact lamellar bone. Conversely, when progenitor cells were loaded onto nanofibrous collagen-based sponges, new collagen fibers were distributed in a nematic phase, resulting mostly in woven isotropic bone. Thus specific biomaterial design relevantly contributes to properly drive collagen fibers assembly to target bone regeneration.
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