In the last decades, increased knowledge about the organization, structure and properties of collagen (particularly concerning interactions between cells and collagen-based materials) has inspired scientists and engineers to design innovative collagen-based biomaterials and to develop novel tissue-engineering products. The design of resorbable collagen-based medical implants requires understanding the tissue/organ anatomy and biological function as well as the role of collagen's physicochemical properties and structure in tissue/organ regeneration. Bone is a complex tissue that plays a critical role in diverse metabolic processes mediated by calcium delivery as well as in hematopoiesis whilst maintaining skeleton strength. A wide variety of collagen-based scaffolds have been proposed for different tissue engineering applications. These scaffolds are designed to promote a biological response, such as cell interaction, and to work as artificial biomimetic extracellular matrices that guide tissue regeneration. This paper critically reviews the current understanding of the complex hierarchical structure and properties of native collagen molecules, and describes the scientific challenge of manufacturing collagen-based materials with suitable properties and shapes for specific biomedical applications, with special emphasis on bone tissue engineering. The analysis of the state of the art in the field reveals the presence of innovative techniques for scaffold and material manufacturing that are currently opening the way to the preparation of biomimetic substrates that modulate cell interaction for improved substitution, restoration, retention or enhancement of bone tissue function.
Copyright © 2012 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.