Indexed on: 06 Sep '13Published on: 06 Sep '13Published in: Tissue engineering. Part B, Reviews
Polymeric nanofibers have potential as tissue engineering scaffolds, as they mimic the nanoscale properties and structural characteristics of native extracellular matrix (ECM). Nanofibers composed of natural and synthetic polymers, biomimetic composites, ceramics, and metals have been fabricated by electrospinning for various tissue engineering applications. The inherent advantages of electrospinning nanofibers include the generation of substrata with high surface area-to-volume ratios, the capacity to precisely control material and mechanical properties, and a tendency for cellular in-growth due to interconnectivity within the pores. Furthermore, the electrospinning process affords the opportunity to engineer scaffolds with micro- to nanoscale topography similar to the natural ECM. This review describes the fundamental aspects of the electrospinning process when applied to spinnable natural and synthetic polymers; particularly, those parameters that influence fiber geometry, morphology, mesh porosity, and scaffold mechanical properties. We describe cellular responses to fiber morphology achieved by varying processing parameters and highlight successful applications of electrospun nanofibrous scaffolds when used to tissue engineer bone, skin, and vascular grafts.