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

Vincent Irawan, Tzu Cheng Sung, Akon Higuchi, Toshiyuki Ikoma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Background:: 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. Methods:: 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. Results:: 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. Conclusion:: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-697
Number of pages25
JournalTissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


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


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