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Effects of a Polycaprolactone (PCL) Tissue Scaffold in Rattus norvegicus on Blood Flow

  • Satish Bhat (a1), Christopher Chen (a2) and Deborah A. Day (a1)


Tissue engineering aims to save lives by producing synthetic organs and bone. This study is attempting to determine what effects a polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffold will have on the blood flow of Rattus norvegicus, as measured by the number of platelets. Prior to experimentation, it was hypothesized that the polycaprolactone scaffold would maintain and/or increase the number of platelets when compared to the control group. This was developed based on prior research that showed polylactic acid (PLA), a polymer being used currently, and polycaprolactone had similar characteristics like boiling point, melting point, and glass transition temperature. To test this hypothesis, the PCL, created from an existing protocol, was used to mold a scaffold in vitro. Three groups of rats were identified, then further split into an “A” and “B” subdivision with 5 members in each. All “A” subdivision members received the scaffold, while the "B" factions lacked it. Each rat underwent surgery to remove 1mm of the right ventricle, which was replaced by the PCL scaffold in the experimental group. The control group did not have the scaffold replacement. Without this piece of the right ventricle, prior research conducted at the University of Virginia in 2006 suggests that the rats would die within one week. However, in the experimental group of rats, the missing piece of the ventricle was replaced with the scaffold, so if it were accepted then the rats would survive beyond 1week. All rats in the experimental group died exactly 1 week after the control group as predicted before experimentation. After all of the rats had a 1-week acclimation period, a 1mm^2 slice of the heart was extracted and then the number of platelets was counted using a phase contrast microscope. The heart extraction was prepared in a petri dish and then placed into a hemocytometer, splitting the dish into smaller sections making it possible to count. The data supports the hypothesis whereby an average 12% increase in the number of platelets in the rats with the PCL scaffold versus the group without it was seen. This increase in platelet count reflects an increase in blood flow. A statistical t-test was conducted on each trial (n=5 per group, n=10 total per trial) comparing experimental versus control group to calculate a p-value. The p-values were 0.034, 0.045, and 0.022, respectively which indicates statistical significance since the value is less than 0.05. After all experimentation, the benefits of using PCL in tissue engineering were examined. For example, PCL costs $80 less to produce per kilogram than polylactic acid. This study suggests that PCL would be a viable candidate for tissue engineering in humans.



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