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Biomed Mater. 2019 Mar 14;14(3):034102. doi: 10.1088/1748-605X/ab04e0.

Fabrication of hydrogel scaffolds via photocrosslinking of methacrylated silk fibroin.

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JSC Efferon, Moscow, ter. Skolkovo Innovation Center, st. Nobel, 7, 121205, Russia. Department of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskie Gory, 1-12, 119991, Moscow, Russia.


Silk fibroin is a promising biomaterial for tissue engineering due to its valuable mechanical and biological properties. However, being a natural product and a protein, it lacks the processability and uniform quality of an advanced synthetic material. Here we propose a way to overcome this contradiction using novel fibroin photocrosslinkable derivative (FBMA). FBMA was synthesized by methacrylation of native fibroin nucleophilic side groups. It was dissolved in either formic acid (FA) or hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP), and the obtained solutions were photocrosslinked into hydrogel scaffolds of various structural forms including films, micropatterns, pads and macroporous sponges. UV-exposition of dry FBMA films through a photomask created complex microscaled patterns of the polymer. The nature of the solvent affected the properties of resulting hydrogels. When HFIP was used as the solvent, the resulting hydrogels had a storage modulus ∼4 times higher than that of hydrogels fabricated using FA and ∼20 times higher compared to the reference hydrogel obtained from pristine fibroin. Both FBMA-based hydrogels were biocompatible and supported fibroblast adhesion and growth in vitro. Cells cultivated on FBMA scaffolds produced with HFIP exhibited more spread phenotype at 4 and 24 h of cultivation, consistent with increased stiffness of the hydrogel. Hence, FBMA is an attractive material for fabrication of micropatterned scaffolds of centimeter-scale size with minutely tunable physico-chemical properties via convenient and reproducible technological processes, applicable for rapid prototyping.


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