Natural Materials as Smart Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering
Given their favourable biological properties, natural biomaterials are of great interest in the field of tissue engineering for the development of scaffolds to stimulate tissue regeneration. There is growing evidence to support the rationale of applying a tissue-specific design approach to generate scaffolds that mimic the biochemical, biomechanical and biophysical properties of the native cellular microenvironment. This chapter focuses on the development and recent applications of naturally-derived smart scaffolds in tissue engineering, including both responsive and instructive natural biomaterials. More specifically, collagen-based scaffolds, decellularized tissues and naturally-derived hydrogels based on chitosan, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate and heparin sulfate/heparin will be discussed in detail. Further, an overview of some important naturally-inspired biomaterials, including self-assembling peptides and calcium phosphate-based materials, will be provided.