- Macroporous composites made of coralline:chitosan with new microstructural features were studied for their scaffolding potential in in vitro bone regeneration. By using different ratios of natural coralline powder, as in situ gas forming agent and reinforcing phase, followed by freeze-drying, scaffolds with controlled porosity and pore structure were prepared and cultured with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Their supportive activity of cellular attachment, proliferation and differentiation were assessed through cell morphology studies, DNA content, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and osteocalcin (OC) release. The coralline scaffolds showed by far the highest evaluation of cell number and ALP activity over all the other chitosan-based scaffolds. They were the only material on which the OC protein was released throughout the study. When used as a component of the chitosan composite scaffolds, these coralline's favourable properties seemed to improve the overall performance of the chitosan. Distinct cell morphology and osteoblastic phenotype expression were observed depending on the coralline-to-chitosan ratios composing the scaffolds. The coralline–chitosan composite scaffolds containing high coralline ratios generally showed higher total cell number, ALP activity and OC protein expression comparing to chitosan scaffolds. The results of this study strongly suggest that coralline:chitosan composite, especially those having a high coralline content, may enhance adhesion, proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of MSCs in comparison with pure chitosan. Coralline:chitosan composites could therefore be used as attractive scaffolds for developing new strategies for in vitro tissue engineering.