Nanofibrous architecture of silk fibroin scaffolds prepared with a mild self-assembly process
Besides excellent biocompatibility and biodegradability, a useful tissue engineering scaffold should provide suitable macropores and nanofibrous structure, similar to extracellular matrix (ECM), to induce desired cellular activities and to guide tissue regeneration. In the present study, a mild process to prepare porous and nanofibrous silk-based scaffolds from aqueous solution is described. Using collagen to control the self-assembly of silk, nanofibrous silk scaffolds were firstly achieved through lyophilization. Water annealing was used to generate insolubility in the silk-based scaffolds, thereby avoiding the use of organic solvents. The nano-fibrils formed in the silk-collagen scaffolds had diameters of 20–100 nm, similar with native collagen in ECM. The silk-collagen scaffolds dissolved slowly in PBS solution, with about a 28% mass lost after 4 weeks. Following the dissolution or degradation, the nanofibrous structure inside the macropore walls emerged and interacted with cells directly. During in vitro cell culture, the nanofibrous silk-collagen scaffolds containing 7.4% collagen demonstrated significantly improved cell compatibility when compared with salt-leached silk scaffolds and silk-collagen scaffolds containing 20% collagen that emerged less nano-fibrils. Therefore, this new process provides useful scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. Furthermore, the process involves all-aqueous, room temperature and pressure processing without the use of toxic chemicals or solvents, offering new green chemistry approaches, as well as options to load bioactive drugs or growth factors into process.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 32, Issue 4, February 2011, Pages 1059–1067