The Digit: Engineering of Phalanges and Small Joints

Makoto Komura, Jaehyun Kim, Anthony Atala, James J. Yoo, Sang Jin Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter reviews principles of reconstructing complex composite tissues, provides an overview of earlier and recent developments in tissue engineering design for phalanges and small joints in the digit, and discusses the current technologies for reconstruction. Stem cells are proposed as an alternative cell source for the engineering of the digit tissues. Autologous somatic cells are preferable as they have a limited expansion capability and require multiple tissue biopsies in order to obtain all cell types needed for digit engineering. Scaffolds provide three-dimensional (3D) architecture for regenerating tissues by supplying cell anchorage sites, mechanical stability, and structural guidance. In vivo, they provide an interface that allows a construct to respond to physiological and biological changes and guide the remodeling of the extracellular matrix to allow integration with the surrounding native tissue. A tissue engineering approach aimed at mimicking the physiological properties and structure of two different tissues (cartilage and bone) using a cell-scaffold construct would be ideal for repair and regeneration of limbs and digits. When single (monophasic) scaffolds are used, the natural environment is not adequately replicated and new tissue formation is incomplete. Therefore, several attempts are made to develop biphasic composite constructs for bone-cartilage engineering by combining two distinct scaffold materials. Biphasic composite scaffolds manufactured by image-based design and solid free-form fabrication are used to simultaneously generate bone and cartilage in discrete regions and provide for the development of a stable interface between cartilage and subchondral bone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Regenerative Medicine
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780123814227
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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