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Macroporous Silk Nanofiber Cryogels with Tunable Properties

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journal contribution
posted on 21.04.2022, 04:44 authored by Xiaoyi Zhang, Yingjie Hang, Zhaozhao Ding, Liying Xiao, Weinan Cheng, Qiang Lu
Cryogels are widely used in tissue regeneration due to their porous structures and friendly hydrogel performance. Silk-based cryogels were developed but failed to exhibit desirable tunable properties to adapt various biomedical applications. Here, amorphous short silk nanofibers (SSFs) were introduced to fabricate silk cryogels with versatile cues. Compared to previous silk cryogels, the SSF cryogels prepared under same conditions showed significantly enhanced mechanical properties. The microporous cryogels were achieved under lower silk concentrations, confirming better tunability. Versatile cryogels with the modulus in the range of 0.5–283.7 kPa were developed through adjusting silk concentration and crosslinking conditions, superior to previous silk cryogel systems. Besides better cytocompatibility, the SSF cryogels were endowed with effective mechanical cues to control osteogenetic differentiation behaviors of BMSCs. The mechanical properties could be further regulated finely through the introduction of β-sheet-rich silk nanofibers (SNFs), which suggested possible optimization of mechanical niches. Bioactive cargo-laden SNFs were introduced to the SSF cryogel systems, bringing biochemical signals without the compromise of mechanical properties. Versatile SNF-based cryogels with different physical and biological cues were developed here to facilitate the applications in various tissue engineering.