Biocompatible Nanocomposite Coatings Deposited via Layer-by-Layer Assembly for the Mechanical Reinforcement of Highly Porous Interconnected Tissue-Engineered Scaffolds

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Tissue-engineered (TE) scaffolds provide an ‘off-the-shelf’ alternative to autograft procedures and can potentially address their associated complications and limitations. The properties of TE scaffolds do not always match the surrounding bone, often sacrificing porosity for improved compressive strength. Previously, the layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly technique was used to deposit nanoclay containing multilayers capable of improving the mechanical properties of open-cell structures without greatly affecting the porosity. However, the previous coatings studied contained poly(ethylenimine) (PEI), which is known to be cytotoxic due to the presence of amine groups, rendering it unsuitable for use in biomedical applications. In this work, poly(diallydimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA)- and chitosan (CHI)-based polyelectrolyte systems were investigated for the purpose of nanoclay addition as an alternative to PEI-based polyelectrolyte systems. Nanocomposite coatings comprising of PEI, poly(acrylic acid) (PAA), Na+ montmorillonite (NC), PDDA, CHI and sodium alginate (ALG) were fabricated. The coatings were deposited in the following manner: (PEI/PAA/PEI/NC), PEI-(PDDA/PAA/PDDA/NC) and (CHI/ALG/CHI/ALG). Results from scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) analyses demonstrated that the nanoclay was successfully incorporated into each polymer bilayer system, creating a nanocomposite coating. Each coating was successful at tailoring the elastic modulus of the open-cell structures, with polyurethane foams exhibiting an increase from 0.15 ± 0.10 MPa when uncoated to 5.51 ± 0.40 MPa, 6.01 ± 0.36 MPa and 2.61 ± 0.41 MPa when coated with (PEI/PAA/PEI/NC), PEI-(PDDA/PAA/PDDA/NC) and (CHI/ALG/CHI/ALG), respectively. Several biological studies were conducted to determine the cytotoxicity of the coatings, including a resazurin reduction assay, scanning electron microscopy and fluorescent staining of the cell-seeded substrates. In this work, the PDDA-based system exhibited equivalent physical and mechanical properties to the PEI-based system and was significantly more biocompatible, making it a much more suitable alternative for biomaterial applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number585
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number10
Early online date20 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 20 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Department for the Economy for funding this work through a PhD studentship. We would also like to acknowledge BYK Additives for kindly providing a sample of cloisite Na+ nanoclay powder.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • layer-by-layer assembly
  • nanocomposite coating
  • bone tissue scaffold
  • biocompatible
  • compressive elastic modulus
  • Bone Tissue Scaffold
  • Layer-by-layer Assembly
  • Biocompatible
  • Compressive Elastic Modulus
  • Nanocomposite Coating


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