Although significant advances have been made in medical techniques that reconstruct damaged organs or tissues as a result of trauma or cancer, tissues or organs transplantation is a generally accepted therapy to treat these patients. However, autologous transplantation is limited due to infection and donor site morbidity or pain to patients. Alternative tissue sources that have origins from other humans or animals remain problematic mainly because of immunological rejection by the patients upon implantation [1].

Tissue engineering has shown great potential in treating the damaged or lost tissues or organs [2]. Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary field that involve the expansion of cells, the design of three-dimensional scaffolds, and culturing of cells in scaffolds to repair or replace portions of or whole tissues. In addition, some vital factors should be taken into account including stem cells that can be differentiated into specific cell types, scaffolds that can support cell growth, and growth factors that can control cellular activities to gain damaged tissues or organs regeneration [3-5].

There are several requirements in the design of scaffolds for tissue engineering. Many of these requirements are complex and not yet fully understood. Ideally, a scaffold should meet several design criteria: (1) biocompatible and bioresorbable with controllable resorption and degradation rate to match tissue reconstruction; (2) the surface should support cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation; (3) mechanical properties to match those of the desired tissues; (4) should with enough porosity for cell growth and flow transport of nutrients and metabolic waste; (5) be reproducible processed into variety of shapes and sizes by solid free form fabrication [6, 7]. Many porous scaffolds have been fabricated and used for tissue engineering of bone [8], cartilage [9-11], liver [12] nerve [13], and ligament [14], etc.

Many biodegradable biomaterials have been used and fabricated into various shapes for tissue engineering. These scaffolds showed promising results, guiding tissue development. However, tissue engineering is complex and specific to the structure and function of the tissue of interest. In order to precisely control of the scaffolds architecture like size, shape, inter connectivity, branching, geometry, and orientation to mimic the desired tissues, the need for knowledge of tissue properties remains essential so that each may be used with maximum understanding the properties of tissue and to greatest advantage. Thus, the aim of this chapter is to present an overview of the biochemical and physical properties of main hard and soft tissues, including bones, teeth, cartilages, blood vessels, liver, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. For each case, the properties which are used to describe the tissue are reviewed, with emphasis being placed on their classification, structure, functions, and related diseases. Subsequently, tissue engineering concerning each tissue are also included.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >