Fabricating polymeric scaffolds using cost-effective manufacturing processes is still challenging. Gas foaming techniques using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) have attracted attention for producing synthetic polymer matrices; however, the high-pressure requirements are often a technological barrier for its widespread use. Compressed 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane, known as Freon R134a, offers advantages over CO2 in manufacturing processes in terms of lower pressure and temperature conditions and the use of low-cost equipment.
Here, we report for the first time the use of Freon R134a for generating porous polymer matrices, specifically polylactide (PLA). PLA scaffolds processed with Freon R134a exhibited larger pore sizes, and total porosity, and appropriate mechanical properties compared with those achieved by scCO2 processing. PLGA scaffolds processed with Freon R134a were highly porous and showed a relatively fragile structure. Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) attached to PLA scaffolds processed with Freon R134a, and their metabolic activity increased during culturing. In addition, MSCs displayed spread morphology on the PLA scaffolds processed with Freon R134a, with a well-organized actin cytoskeleton and a dense matrix of fibronectin fibrils. Functionalization of Freon R134a-processed PLA scaffolds with protein nanoparticles, used as bioactive factors, enhanced the scaffolds’ cytocompatibility. These findings indicate that gas foaming using compressed Freon R134a could represent a cost-effective and environmentally friendly fabrication technology to produce polymeric scaffolds for tissue engineering approaches.
Bioactive materials for therapy and diagnosis
Polylactide, Processed by a Foaming Method Using Compressed Freon R134a, for Tissue Engineering
María Aguado, Laura Saldaña, Eduardo Pérez del Río, Judith Guasch, Marc Parera, Alba Córdoba, Joaquín Seras-Franzoso, Olivia Cano-Garrido, Esther Vázquez, Antonio Villaverde, Jaume Veciana, Imma Ratera, Nuria Vilaboa, and Nora Ventosa