Biologically active collagen-based scaffolds: Advances in processing and characterization

I. V. Yannas, D. S. Tzeranis, B. A. Harley, P. T.C. So

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A small number of type I collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffolds (collagen-GAG scaffolds; CGSs) have unusual biological activity consisting primarily in inducing partial regeneration of organs in the adult mammal. Two of these are currently in use in a variety of clinical settings. CGSs appear to induce regeneration by blocking the adult healing response, following trauma, consisting of wound contraction and scar formation. Several structural determinants of biological activity have been identified, including ligands for binding of fibroblasts to the collagen surface, the mean pore size (which affects ligand density) and the degradation rate (which affects the duration of the wound contraction-blocking activity by the scaffold). Processing variables that affect these determinants include the kinetics of swelling of collagen fibres in acetic acid, freezing of the collagen-GAG suspension and cross-linking of the freeze-dried scaffold. Recent developments in the processing of CGSs include fabrication of scaffolds that are paucidisperse in pore size, scaffolds with gradients in physicochemical properties (and therefore biological activity) and scaffolds that incorporate a mineral component. Advances in the characterization of the pore structure of CGSs have been made using confocal and nonlinear optical microscopy (NLOM). The mechanical behaviour of CGSs, as well as the resistance to degradative enzymes, have been studied. Following seeding with cells (typically fibroblasts), contractile forces in the range 26-450 nN per cell are generated by the cells, leading to buckling of scaffold struts. Ongoing studies of cell-seeded CGSs with NLOM have shown an advantage over the use of confocal microscopy due to the ability of the former method to image the CGS surfaces without staining (which alters its surface ligands), reduced cell photodamage, reduced fluorophore photobleaching and the ability to image deeper inside the scaffold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2123-2139
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1917
StatePublished - Apr 28 2010


  • Biologically active scaffolds
  • Collagen-GAG scaffolds
  • Nonlinear optical microscopy
  • Organ regeneration
  • Scaffold processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Engineering


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