GelMA/TCP nanocomposite scaffold for vital pulp therapy

Yuanyuan Han a b 1, Renan Dal-Fabbro a 1, Abdel H. Mahmoud a, Maedeh Rahimnejad a, Jinping Xu a, Miguel Castilho c d, Waruna L. Dissanayaka b, Marco C. Bottino a e

Published: 2023

Pulp capping is a necessary procedure for preserving the vitality and health of the dental pulp, playing a crucial role in preventing the need for root canal treatment or tooth extraction. Here, we developed an electrospun gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) fibrous scaffold incorporating beta-tricalcium phosphate (TCP) particles for pulp capping. A comprehensive morphological, physical-chemical, and mechanical characterization of the engineered fibrous scaffolds was performed. In vitro bioactivity, cell compatibility, and odontogenic differentiation potential of the scaffolds in dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) were also evaluated. A pre-clinical in vivo model was used to determine the therapeutic role of the GelMA/TCP scaffolds in promoting hard tissue formation. Morphological, chemical, and thermal analyses confirmed effective TCP incorporation in the GelMA nanofibers. The GelMA+20%TCP nanofibrous scaffold exhibited bead-free morphology and suitable mechanical and degradation properties. In vitro, GelMA+20%TCP scaffolds supported apatite-like formation, improved cell spreading, and increased deposition of mineralization nodules. Gene expression analysis revealed upregulation of ALPL, RUNX2, COL1A1, and DMP1 in the presence of TCP-laden scaffolds. In vivo, analyses showed mild inflammatory reaction upon scaffolds’ contact while supporting mineralized tissue formation. Although the levels of Nestin and DMP1 proteins did not exceed those associated with the clinical reference treatment (i.e., mineral trioxide aggregate), the GelMA+20%TCP scaffold exhibited comparable levels, thus suggesting the emergence of differentiated odontoblast-like cells capable of dentin matrix secretion. Our innovative GelMA/TCP scaffold represents a simplified and efficient alternative to conventional pulp-capping biomaterials.


Full Access Link: Acta Biomaterialia