Extracellular matrix components are valuable building blocks for the preparation of biomaterials involved in tissue engineering, especially if their biological, chemical and physical characteristics can be controlled. In this study, isolated type I collagen fibrils, elastin fibres and chondroitin sulphate (CS) were used for the preparation of molecularly-defined collagen-elastin-glycosaminoglycan scaffolds. A total of 12 different scaffolds were prepared with four different ratios of collagen and elastin (1:9, 1:1, 9:1 and 1:0), with and without chemical crosslinking, and with and without CS. Collagen was essential to fabricate coherent, porous scaffolds. Electron microscopy showed that collagen and elastin physically interacted with each other and that elastin fibres were enveloped by collagen. By carbodiimide-crosslinking, amine groups were coupled to carboxylic groups and CS could be incorporated. More CS could be bound to collagen scaffolds (10%) than to collagen-elastin scaffolds (2.4-8.5% depending on the ratio). The attachment of CS increased the water-binding capacity to up to 65%. Scaffolds with a higher collagen content had a higher tensile strength whereas addition of elastin increased elasticity. Scaffolds were cytocompatible as was established using human myoblast and fibroblast culture systems. It is concluded that molecularly-defined composite scaffolds can be composed from individual, purified, extracellular matrix components. Data are important in the design and application of tailor-made biomaterials for tissue engineering.
- Tissue Engineering