Polymer Science Faculty Research

X-ray imaging optimization of 3D tissue engineering scaffolds via combinatorial fabrication methods

Matthew Becker


We have developed a combinatorial method for determining optimum tissue scaffold composition for several X-ray imaging techniques. X-ray radiography and X-ray microcomputed tomography enable non-invasive imaging of implants in vivo and in vitro. However, highly porous polymeric scaffolds do not always possess sufficient X-ray contrast and are therefore difficult to image with X-ray-based techniques. Incorporation of high radiocontrast atoms, such as iodine, into the polymer structure improves X-ray radiopacity but also affects physicochemical properties and material performance. Thus, we have developed a combinatorial library approach to efficiently determine the minimum amount of contrast agent necessary for X-ray-based imaging. The combinatorial approach is demonstrated in a polymer blend scaffold system where X-ray imaging of poly(desaminotyrosyl-tyrosine ethyl ester carbonate) (pDTEc) scaffolds is improved through a controlled composition variation with an iodinated-pDTEc analog (pI(2)DTEc). The results show that pDTEc scaffolds must include at least 9%, 16%, 38% or 46% pI(2)DTEc (by mass) to enable effective imaging by microradiography, dental radiography, dental radiography through 0.75cm of muscle tissue or microcomputed tomography, respectively. Only two scaffold libraries were required to determine these minimum pI(2)DTEc percentages required for X-ray imaging, which demonstrates the efficiency of this new combinatorial approach for optimizing scaffold formulations.