Fabricating tubular scaffolds with a radial pore size gradient by a spinning technique

Brendan A. Harley, Abel Z. Hastings, Ioannis V. Yannas, Alessandro Sannino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A novel fabrication process has been developed to produce collagen-based, porous tubular scaffolds to facilitate the study of myofibroblast migration during peripheral nerve regeneration; however, this fabrication technique offers broader appeal for the production of a variety of tubular structures without the use of a complicated mold system. A collagen-glycosaminoglycan (CG) suspension in acetic acid was spun in a cylindrical copper mold about its longitudinal axis at variable angular velocities and for different times, resulting in variable relative sedimentation of the CG content towards the mold outer edge; after the specified spinning time, the spinning mold was placed into a bath of liquid nitrogen where the CG suspension was rapidly frozen. Due to the rapid solidification, the CG content remained sedimented while an interconnected network of ice crystals formed throughout. Sublimation of the frozen mass removed the solvent (acetic acid) content, producing a porous, tubular structure defined by sedimentation and ice crystal nucleation processes. A porous, tubular scaffold with a sharply defined inner tube wall can be produced; further, increasing the spinning time and/or spinning velocity increases the sedimentation effect leading to the production of a hollow tube with a larger inner diameter. The tube walls display a radially aligned pore structure, even in cases where sedimentation was not sufficient to produce a hollow tube. A gradient of porosity along the tube radius was also observed in cases of extreme sedimentation: the pore structure of the external portion of the tube wall had a larger solid volume fraction and a smaller mean pore size compared to the internal portion of the tube. This tubular structure may allow preferential cell migration from the inner tube lumen towards the outer tube edge while blocking cell entrance into the tube through its outer surface due to increased scaffold relative density and decreased pore size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)866-874
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Collagen
  • Gradient
  • Migration
  • Myofibroblast
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Porosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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