3D-Printed PCL/PPy Conductive Scaffolds as Three-Dimensional Porous Nerve Guide Conduits (NGCs) for Peripheral Nerve Injury Repair

Sanjairaj Vijayavenkataraman, Sathya Kannan, Tong Cao, Jerry Y.H. Fuh, Gopu Sriram, Wen Feng Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conductivity is a desirable property of an ideal nerve guide conduit (NGC) that is being considered for peripheral nerve regeneration. Most of the conductive polymers reported in use for fabrication of tissue engineering scaffolds such as polypyrrole (PPy), polyaniline, polythiophene, and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) are non-biodegradable and possess weak mechanical properties to be fabricated into 3D structures. In this study, a biodegradable and conductive block copolymer of PPy and Polycaprolactone (PPy-b-PCL) was used to fabricate 3D porous NGCs using a novel electrohydrodynamic jet 3D printing process which offers superior control over fiber diameter, pore size, porosity, and fiber alignment. PCL/PPy scaffolds with three different concentrations of PPy-b-PCL (0.5, 1, and 2% v/v) were fabricated as a mesh (pore size 125 ± 15 μm) and the effect of incorporation of PPy-b-PCL on mechanical properties, biodegradability, and conductivity of the NGCs were studied. The mechanical properties of the scaffolds decreased with the addition of PPy-b-PCL which aided the ability to fabricate softer scaffolds that are closer to the properties of the native human peripheral nerve. With increasing concentrations of PPy-b-PCL, the scaffolds displayed a marked increase in conductivity (ranging from 0.28 to 1.15 mS/cm depending on concentration of PPy). Human embryonic stem cell-derived neural crest stem cells (hESC-NCSCs) were used to investigate the impact of PPy-b-PCL based conductive scaffolds on the growth and differentiation to peripheral neuronal cells. The hESC-NCSCs were able to attach and differentiate to peripheral neurons on PCL and PCL/PPy scaffolds, in particular the PCL/PPy (1% v/v) scaffolds supported higher growth of neural cells and a stronger maturation of hESC-NCSCs to peripheral neuronal cells. Overall, these results suggest that PPy-based conductive scaffolds have potential clinical value as cell-free or cell-laden NGCs for peripheral neuronal regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number266
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Oct 16 2019


  • EHD-jet 3D printing
  • conductive scaffolds
  • nerve guide conduit
  • peripheral nerve injury
  • stem cells
  • tissue engineering scaffolds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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