The use of natural polymers in tissue engineering: A focus on electrospun extracellular matrix analogues


Natural polymers such as collagens, elastin, and fibrinogen make up much of the body's native extracellular matrix (ECM). This ECM provides structure and mechanical integrity to tissues, as well as communicating with the cellular components it supports to help facilitate and regulate daily cellular processes and wound healing. An ideal tissue engineering scaffold would not only replicate the structure of this ECM, but would also replicate the many functions that the ECM performs. In the past decade, the process of electrospinning has proven effective in creating non-woven ECM analogue scaffolds of micro to nanoscale diameter fibers from an array of synthetic and natural polymers. The ability of this fabrication technique to utilize the aforementioned natural polymers to create tissue engineering scaffolds has yielded promising results, both in vitro and in vivo, due in part to the enhanced bioactivity afforded by materials normally found within the human body. This review will present the process of electrospinning and describe the use of natural polymers in the creation of bioactive ECM analogues in tissue engineering. © 2010 by the authors.

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