Silk fibroin/gelatin microcarriers as scaffolds for bone tissue engineering

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Microcarrier cell scaffolds have potential as injectable cell delivery vehicles or as building blocks for tissue engineering. The use of small cell carriers allows for a ‘bottom up’ approach to tissue assembly when moulding microparticles into larger structures, which can facilitate the introduction of hierarchy by layering different matrices and cell types, while evenly distributing cells through the structure. In this work, silk fibroin (SF), purified from Bombyx mori cocoons, was blended with gelatin (G) to produce materials composed of varying ratios of the two components (SF: G 25:75, 50:50, and 75:25). Cell compatibility to these materials was first confirmed in two-dimensional culture and found to be equivalent to standard tissue culture plastic, and better than SF or G alone. The mechanical properties of the blends were investigated and the blended materials were found to have increased Young's moduli over SF alone. Microcarriers of SF/G blends with defined diameters were generated in a reproducible manner through the use of an axisymmetric flow focussing device, constructed from off-the-shelf parts and fittings. These SF/G microcarriers supported adhesion of rat mesenchymal stem cells with high degrees of efficiency under dynamic culture conditions and, after culturing in osteogenic differentiation medium, cells were shown to have characteristics typical of osteoblasts. This work illustrates that microcarriers composed of SF/G blends are promising building blocks for osteogenic tissue engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110116
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalMaterials Science & Engineering C
Early online date26 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Flow focussing
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Microcarriers
  • Silk fibroin
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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