Scaffolds Reinforced by Fibers or Tubes for Soft Tissue Repair

Baoqing Pei, Wei Wang, and Xiaoming Li

Abstract Soft tissue is a dynamic and hierarchical organic structure, and its natural extracellular matrix (ECM) not only provides a microscopic mechanical environment but also regulates a variety of cellular function and exercise through the continuous interaction with the cells, mechanical transmission and the expression of chemical signals. Scaffolds in soft tissue engineering as an artificial extracellular matrix (ECM) should have the appropriate appearance and functions to provide material support for cell proliferation and survival. In nature, many soft tissues are usually mechanically reinforced by fibers to form a three-dimensional structure. Therefore, the application of reinforcing scaffolds has a number of potential advantages that can’t be ignored in soft tissue repair and regeneration. In the past few years, novel fibers or tubes reinforced scaffolds with controlled microstructures, mechanical properties and degradation rates have emerged in soft tissue engineering and been considered to be a very effective means for engineering materials development for soft tissue engineering or regenerative medicine. Studies have shown that fiber and tube reinforcements with their unique properties and functions play a key role in improving the biomechanics, biocompatibility, bioactivity, integration and degradation of synthetic scaffolds in soft tissue repair and regeneration. In this chapter, the properties, structures and applications of fiber- or tube- reinforced scaffolds in soft tissue engineering are reviewed in conjunction with recent advances.

Keywords Scaffolds • Reinforce • Fibers • Tubes • Soft tissue

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