In this study, cell sheets comprising multilayered porcine bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) were assembled with fully interconnected scaffolds made from medical-grade polycaprolactone–calcium phosphate (mPCL–CaP), for the engineering of structural and functional bone grafts. The BMSC sheets were harvested from culture flasks and wrapped around pre-seeded composite scaffolds. The layered cell sheets integrated well with the scaffold/cell construct and remained viable, with mineralized nodules visible both inside and outside the scaffold for up to 8 weeks culture. Cells within the constructs underwent classical in vitro osteogenic differentiation with the associated elevation of alkaline phosphatase activity and bone-related protein expression. In vivo, two sets of cell-sheet-scaffold/cell constructs were transplanted under the skin of nude rats. The first set of constructs (554mm3) were assembled with BMSC sheets and cultured for 8 weeks before implantation. The second set of constructs (10104mm3) was implanted immediately after assembly with BMSC sheets, with no further in vitro culture. For both groups, neo cortical and well-vascularised cancellous bone were formed within the constructs with up to 40% bone volume. Histological and immunohistochemical examination revealed that neo bone tissue formed from the pool of seeded BMSC and the bone formation followed predominantly an endochondral pathway, with woven bone matrix subsequently maturing into fully mineralized compact bone; exhibiting the histological markers of native bone. These findings demonstrate that large bone tissues similar to native bone can be regenerated utilizing BMSC sheet techniques in conjunction with composite scaffolds whose structures are optimized from a mechanical, nutrient transport and vascularization perspective
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