Hypoxia-mimicking bioactive glass/collagen glycosaminoglycan composite scaffolds to enhance angiogenesis and bone repair.

One of the biggest challenges in regenerative medicine is promoting sufficient vascularisation of tissue-engineered constructs. One approach to overcome this challenge is to target the cellular hypoxia inducible factor (HIF-1α) pathway, which responds to low oxygen concentration (hypoxia) and results in the activation of numerous pro-angiogenic genes including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Cobalt ions are known to mimic hypoxia by artificially stabilising the HIF-1α transcription factor. Here, resorbable bioactive glass particles (38 μm and 100 μm) with cobalt ions incorporated into the glass network were used to create bioactive glass/collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffolds optimised for bone tissue engineering. Inclusion of the bioactive glass improved the compressive modulus of the resulting composite scaffolds while maintaining high degrees of porosity (>97%). Moreover, in vitro analysis demonstrated that the incorporation of cobalt bioactive glass with a mean particle size of 100 μm significantly enhanced the production and expression of VEGF in endothelial cells, and cobalt bioactive glass/collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffold conditioned media also promoted enhanced tubule formation. Furthermore, our results prove the ability of these scaffolds to support osteoblast cell proliferation and osteogenesis in all bioactive glass/collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffolds irrespective of the particle size. In summary, we have developed a hypoxia-mimicking tissue-engineered scaffold with pro-angiogenic and pro-osteogenic capabilities that may encourage bone tissue regeneration and overcome the problem of inadequate vascularisation of grafts commonly seen in the field of tissue engineering.