Covalent binding of bone morphogenetic protein-2 and transforming growth factor-β3 to 3D plotted scaffolds for osteochondral tissue regeneration

Andrea Di Luca, Michel Klein-Gunnewiek, Julius G. Vancso, Clemens van Blitterswijk, Edmondo M. Benetti*, Lorenzo Moroni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
120 Downloads (Pure)


Engineering the osteochondral tissue presents some challenges mainly relying in its function of transition from the subchondral bone to articular cartilage and the gradual variation in several biological, mechanical, and structural features. A possible solution for osteochondral regeneration might be the design and fabrication of scaffolds presenting a gradient able to mimic this transition. Covalent binding of biological factors proved to enhance cell adhesion and differentiation in two-dimensional culture substrates. Here, we used polymer brushes as selective linkers of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) and transforming growth factor-β3 (TGF-β3) on the surface of 3D scaffolds fabricated via additive manufacturing (AM) and subsequent controlled radical polymerization. These growth factors (GFs) are known to stimulate the differentiation of human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) toward the osteogenic and chondrogenic lineages, respectively. BMP-2 and TGF-β3 were covalently bound both homogeneously within a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based brush-functionalized scaffolds, and following a gradient composition by varying their concentration along the axial section of the 3D constructs. Following an approach previously developed by our group and proved to be successful to generate fibronectin gradients, opposite brush-supported gradients of BMP-2 and TGF-β3 were finally generated and subsequently tested to differentiate cells in a gradient fashion. The brush-supported GFs significantly influenced hMSCs osteochondral differentiation when the scaffolds were homogenously modified, yet no effect was observed in the gradient scaffolds. Therefore, this technique seems promising to maintain the biological activity of growth factors covalently linked to 3D scaffolds, but needs to be further optimized in case biological gradients are desired.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1700072
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology journal
Issue number12
Early online date2 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Growth factors
  • osteochondral
  • Polymer brushes
  • Scaffolds


Dive into the research topics of 'Covalent binding of bone morphogenetic protein-2 and transforming growth factor-β3 to 3D plotted scaffolds for osteochondral tissue regeneration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this