Bioartificial Sponges for Auricular Cartilage Engineering

  • Marta Feula
  • Mario Milazzo
  • Giulia Giannone
  • Bahareh Azimi
  • Luisa Trombi
  • Ludovica Cacopardo
  • Stefania Moscato
  • Andrea Lazzeri
  • Arti Ahluwalia
  • Stefano Berrettini
  • Carlos Mota
  • Serena DantiEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Bioengineering book series (LNBE)


Auricle reconstruction due to congenital, post-infective or post-traumatic defects represents a challenging procedure in the field of aesthetic and reconstructive surgery due to the highly complex three-dimensional anatomy of the outer ear. Tissue engineering aims to provide alternatives to overcome the shortcomings of standard surgical reconstructive procedure. In the present study, poly(vinyl alcohol)/gelatin (PVA/G) sponges at different weight ratios were produced via emulsion and freeze-drying, and crosslinked by exposure to glutaraldehyde vapors. PVA/G sponges gave rise to highly porous, water stable and hydrophilic scaffolds. Characterization of PVA/G sponges showed round-shaped interconnected pores, high swelling capacity (>200%) and viscoelastic mechanical behavior. The PVA/G 70/30 (w/w) scaffold was selected for in vitro biological studies. Bone marrow derived human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) were used and differentiated towards chondrogenic lineage under different culture conditions: 1) commercial versus handmade differentiation medium; 2) undifferentiated versus pre-differentiated hMSC seeding; and 3) static versus dynamic culture [i.e. ultrasound (US) or bioreactor stimulation]. Histological results highlighted intense glycosaminoglycan, glycoprotein and collagen syntheses after three weeks, mostly using the commercial medium, whereas round morphology was observed in pre-differentiated cells. In static culture, immunohistochemistry for chondrogenic markers revealed an early differentiation stage, characterized by the expression of Sox-9 and collagen type I fibers. The application of US on cell/scaffold constructs increased extracellular matrix deposition and resulted in 30% higher collagen type II expression at the gene level. Bioreactor culture induced collagen type II, aggrecan and elastin formation. This study demonstrated that 70/30 PVA/G sponge is a suitable candidate for auricle reconstruction.


Auricle Tissue engineering Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) Emulsion 



AURICULAE Project, funded by Stem Cells & Life Foundation, Padova, Italy is greatly acknowledged. Dr. Delfo D’Alessandro (University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy), as well as Dr. Alessandra Fusco and Dr. Giovanna Donnarumma (University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Naples, Italy) are thanked for their fundamental technical support to this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Feula
    • 1
  • Mario Milazzo
    • 2
  • Giulia Giannone
    • 3
  • Bahareh Azimi
    • 4
  • Luisa Trombi
    • 4
  • Ludovica Cacopardo
    • 1
  • Stefania Moscato
    • 5
  • Andrea Lazzeri
    • 3
  • Arti Ahluwalia
    • 1
  • Stefano Berrettini
    • 6
  • Carlos Mota
    • 7
  • Serena Danti
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Research Center “E. Piaggio”University of PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.The BioRobotics InstituteScuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPontederaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering (DICI)University of PisaPisaItaly
  4. 4.Research Unit of DICI-PisaInteruniversity Consortium for Materials Science and Technology (INSTM)FlorenceItaly
  5. 5.Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  6. 6.Department of Surgical, Medical, Molecular Pathology and Emergency MedicineUniversity of PisaPisaItaly
  7. 7.Institute for Technology Inspired Regenerative Medicine (MERLN), Complex Tissue Regeneration DepartmentMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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