Mechanical characterization of collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffolds

Brendan A. Harley, Janet H. Leung, Emilio C.C.M. Silva, Lorna J. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tissue engineering scaffolds are used extensively as three-dimensional analogs of the extracellular matrix (ECM). However, less attention has been paid to characterizing the scaffold microstructure and mechanical properties than to the processing and bioactivity of scaffolds. Collagen-glycosaminoglycan (CG) scaffolds have long been utilized as ECM analogs for the regeneration of skin and are currently being considered for the regeneration of nerve and conjunctiva. Recently a series of CG scaffolds with a uniform pore microstructure has been developed with a range of sizes of equiaxed pores. Experimental characterization and theoretical modeling techniques have previously been used to describe the pore microstructure, specific surface area, cell attachment and permeability of these variants. The results of tensile and compressive tests on these CG scaffolds and of bending tests on the individual struts that define the scaffold network are reported here. The CG scaffold variants exhibited stress-strain behavior characteristic of low-density, open-cell foams with distinct linear elastic, collapse plateau and densification regimes. Scaffolds with equiaxed pores were found to be mechanically isotropic. The independent effects of hydration level, pore size, crosslink density and relative density on the mechanical properties was determined. Independent control over scaffold stiffness and pore size was obtained. Good agreement was observed between experimental results of scaffold mechanical characterization and low-density, open-cell foam model predictions for uniform scaffolds. The characterized scaffold variants provide a standardized framework with defined extracellular environments (microstructure, mechanics) for in vitro studies of the mechanical interactions between cells and scaffolds as well as in vivo tissue engineering studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-474
Number of pages12
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomaterials
  • Cellular solids modeling
  • Collagen
  • Mechanical properties testing
  • Scaffolds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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