Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Chemical and Paper Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. James R. Springstead

Second Advisor

Dr. Qiang Yang

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew Kline


Poly(lactic acid), attachment, scaffolds, engineering, tissue

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Tissue engineering is a promising new method for organ regeneration. This method can be used to repair damaged tissue, or possibly replace a fully functional organ. In summary, a biopsy is taken from a donor, isolated, then grown onto a framework resembling an organ. Once grown; it is then transplanted into the patient. Over time, the body will degrade the scaffold, leaving the organ or tissue in its place. As this scaffold is present in the body for an extended time; factors like biocompatibility, toxicity, immunogenicity, and structural stability must be researched.

Several polymers have already been researched for use in tissue engineering. However, one in particular, Poly(lactic acid) or PLA, has taken notice as this has been proven effective in current bone fixation procedures. Some medical devices like screws, pins, rods, meshes and plates already use this material and is approved by the FDA. The reason PLA is used is it degrades into lactic acid, an already present chemical byproduct found in the human body which will not stimulate a negative immune response. Current research shows several studies involving the use of osteoblasts but information on other cell types are extremely limited.

This thesis aims to investigate if cellular adherence is possible on this hydrophobic polymer using several different methods and three-dimensional printing orientations. H4iie cells were cultured on six acid-catalyzed PLA scaffolds for four days. Each scaffold was either uncoated or coated with extracellular matrices Matrigel or Collagen IV. Cellular attachment was then quantified and compared to the control group.

Results show cellular attachment was possible on an untreated surface. However, due to the hydrophobicity of the polymer, a protein substrate with a vertically printed surface enhanced cellular attachment. As this material is currently being used in medical procedures, PLA may be a suitable, nontoxic material that has great potential for further research in tissue engineering.