Tissue engineering is crucially important to help restore or enhance tissue and organ functions by employing a combination of cells, biological scaffolds and growth factors. A proper microenvironment is critical to guiding cells to assemble de novo functional tissues following their in vivo developmental processes. A biomimetic scaffold is key to construction of such a microenvironment, which should not only provide the temporary support for cells, but also elucidate proper cellmatrix interactions.
The biological functions are one essential design feature for biomimetic scaffolds in tissue engineering applications. Different bioactive materials including a large number of polymers and ceramics have now been widely used as tissue engineering scaffolds. Recently, hydrogels, composed of hydrophilic polymers that form three dimensional (3D) networks, are particularly of interest as biomimetic scaffolds because of their good permeability of oxygen and nutrients as well as versatile bioactivities. The biological functions of hydrogels can be largely modulated based upon their diverse compositions. For example, hydrogels from natural extracellular matrix (ECM) components, such as collagen, fibrin and hyaluronic acid, can stimulate specific cell-matrix interactions at certain aspects.
Last date updated on July, 2014