Tissue Eng Regen Med.  2018 Dec;15(6):673-697. 10.1007/s13770-018-0135-9.

Collagen Scaffolds in Cartilage Tissue Engineering and Relevant Approaches for Future Development

  • 1Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2 Chome-12-1, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan. tikoma@ceram.titech.ac.jp
  • 2Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, National Central University, No. 300 Jung Da Rd., Chung-Li, Taoyuan 320, Taiwan.


Cartilage tissue engineering (CTE) aims to obtain a structure mimicking native cartilage tissue through the combination of relevant cells, three-dimensional scaffolds, and extraneous signals. Implantation of "˜matured' constructs is thus expected to provide solution for treating large injury of articular cartilage. Type I collagen is widely used as scaffolds for CTE products undergoing clinical trial, owing to its ubiquitous biocompatibility and vast clinical approval. However, the long-term performance of pure type I collagen scaffolds would suffer from its limited chondrogenic capacity and inferior mechanical properties. This paper aims to provide insights necessary for advancing type I collagen scaffolds in the CTE applications.
Initially, the interactions of type I/II collagen with CTE-relevant cells [i.e., articular chondrocytes (ACs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)] are discussed. Next, the physical features and chemical composition of the scaffolds crucial to support chondrogenic activities of AC and MSC are highlighted. Attempts to optimize the collagen scaffolds by blending with natural/synthetic polymers are described. Hybrid strategy in which collagen and structural polymers are combined in non-blending manner is detailed.
Type I collagen is sufficient to support cellular activities of ACs and MSCs; however it shows limited chondrogenic performance than type II collagen. Nonetheless, type I collagen is the clinically feasible option since type II collagen shows arthritogenic potency. Physical features of scaffolds such as internal structure, pore size, stiffness, etc. are shown to be crucial in influencing the differentiation fate and secreting extracellular matrixes from ACs and MSCs. Collagen can be blended with native or synthetic polymer to improve the mechanical and bioactivities of final composites. However, the versatility of blending strategy is limited due to denaturation of type I collagen at harsh processing condition. Hybrid strategy is successful in maximizing bioactivity of collagen scaffolds and mechanical robustness of structural polymer.
Considering the previous improvements of physical and compositional properties of collagen scaffolds and recent manufacturing developments of structural polymer, it is concluded that hybrid strategy is a promising approach to advance further collagen-based scaffolds in CTE.


Cartilage tissue engineering; Type I collagen; Articular chondrocytes; Mesenchymal stem cells; Hybrid scaffolds

MeSH Terms

Cartilage, Articular
Collagen Type I
Collagen Type II
Extracellular Matrix
Mesenchymal Stromal Cells
Tissue Engineering*
Collagen Type I
Collagen Type II
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