There is a growing need for biomaterial scaffolds that support engineering of soft tissue substitutes featuring structure and mechanical properties similar to those of the native tissue. This work introduces a new biomaterial system that is based on centimeter-long collagen fibers extracted from Sarcophyton soft corals, wrapped around frames to create aligned fiber arrays. The collagen arrays displayed hyperelastic and viscoelastic mechanical properties that resembled those of collagenous-rich tissues. Cytotoxicity tests demonstrated that the collagen arrays were nontoxic to fibroblast cells. In addition, fibroblast cells seeded on the collagen arrays demonstrated spreading and increased growth for up to 40 days, and their orientation followed that of the aligned fibers. The possibility to combine the collagen cellular arrays with poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEG-DA) hydrogel, to create integrated biocomposites, was also demonstrated. This study showed that coral collagen fibers in combination with a hydrogel can support biological tissue-like growth, with predefined orientation over a long period of time in culture. As such, it is an attractive scaffold for the construction of various engineered tissues to match their native oriented morphology.
- Collagenous tissues
- Extracellular matrix