Electrospun silk fibroin (SF) scaffolds have drawn much attention because of their resemblance to natural tissue architecture such as extracellular matrix, and the biocompatibility of SF as a candidate material to replace collagen. However, electrospun scaffolds lack the physical integrity of bone tissue scaffolds, which require resistance to mechanical loadings. In this work, we propose membrane-reinforced electrospun SF scaffolds by a serial process of electrospinning and freeze-drying of SF solutions in two different solvents: formic acid and water, respectively. After wet electrospinning followed by replacement of methanol with water, SF nanofibers dispersed in water were mixed with aqueous SF solution. Freeze-drying of the mixed solution resulted in 3D membrane-connected SF nanofibrous scaffolds (SF scaffolds) with a thickness of a few centimeters. We demonstrated that the SF concentration of aqueous SF solution controlled the degree of membrane reinforcement between nanofibers. It was also shown that both increase in degree of membrane reinforcement and inclusion of hydroxyapatite (HAP) nanoparticles resulted in higher resistance to compressive loadings of the SF scaffolds. Culture of human osteoblasts on collagen, SF, and SF-HAP scaffolds showed that both SF and SF-HAP scaffolds had biocompatibility and cell proliferation superior to that of the collagen scaffolds. SF-HAP scaffolds with and without BMP-2 were used for in vivo studies for 4 and 8 weeks, and they showed enhanced bone tissue formation in rat calvarial defect models.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering