Patients with bone fractures and defects face serious health risks. Synthetic scaffolds have been actively investigated for clinical therapeutics to promote critical-sized bone regeneration, and electrical stimulations are recognized as an effective auxiliary to facilitate the process. Researchers created a three-dimensional (3D) biomimetic scaffold with thin-film silicon (Si) microstructures. This Si-based hybrid scaffold provides a 3D hierarchical structure for directing cell growth and regulates cell behaviors through photo-induced electrical signals. These Si structures, remotely controlled by infrared illumination, electrically modulate the membrane potentials and intracellular calcium dynamics of stem cells, thereby promoting cell proliferation and differentiation.
The Si-integrated scaffold improves osteogenesis in a rodent model when stimulated with light. A wirelessly powered biomimetic optoelectronic scaffold eliminates the need for tethered electrical implants and degrades completely in a biological environment. With broad biomedical application potential, the Si-based 3D scaffold combines topographical and optoelectronic stimuli for effective biological modulation.
One of the standard approaches to regenerating critical-sized bone defects is to use autografts, which have not only ideal osteoconductive and osteoinductive properties toward bone formation in the defect areas but also have limitations such as limited availability and a high risk of donor site morbidity. To overcome the limitations of autografts, the synthetic biological scaffold (bio-scaffold) offers a promising alternative treatment for bone tissue engineering, acting as a substitute and providing topographic support for cell adhesion, growth, and differentiation by mimicking extracellular matrix microenvironments.
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