The effect of pore size on permeability and cell attachment in collagen scaffolds for tissue engineering

Fergal J. O'Brien, Brendan A. Harley, Mary A. Waller, Ioannis V. Yannas, Lorna J. Gibson, Patrick J. Prendergast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The permeability of scaffolds and other three-dimensional constructs used for tissue engineering applications is important as it controls the diffusion of nutrients in and waste out of the scaffold as well as influencing the pressure fields within the construct. The objective of this study was to characterize the permeability/fluid mobility of collagen-GAG scaffolds as a function of pore size and compressive strain using both experimental and mathematical modeling techniques. Scaffolds containing four distinct mean pore sizes (151, 121, 110, 96 microns) were fabricated using a freeze-drying process. An experimental device was constructed to measure the permeability of the scaffold variants at different levels of compressive strain (0, 14, 29 and 40% while a low-density open-cell foam cellular solids model utilizing a tetrakaidecahedral unit cell was used to accurately model the permeability of each scaffold variant at all level of applied strain. The results of both the experimental and the mathematical analysis revealed that scaffold permeability increases with increasing pore size and decreases with increasing compressive strain. The excellent comparison between experimentally measured and predicted scaffold permeability suggests that cellular solids modelling techniques can be utilized to predict scaffold permeability under a variety of physiological loading conditions as well as to predict the permeability of future scaffolds with a wide variety of pore microstructures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-17
Number of pages15
JournalTechnology and Health Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell attachment
  • Collagen
  • Permeability
  • Scaffold
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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