Simulation of ECM with silk and chitosan nanocomposite materials†
Extracellular matrix (ECM) is a system used to model the design of biomaterial matrices for tissue regeneration. Various biomaterial systems have been developed to mimic the composition or microstructure of the ECM. However, emulating multiple facets of the ECM in these systems remains a challenge. Here, a new strategy is reported which addresses this need by using silk fibroin and chitosan (CS) nanocomposite materials. Silk fibroin was first assembled into ECM-mimetic nanofibers in water and then blended with CS to introduce the nanostructural cues. Then the ratios of silk fibroin and CS were optimized to imitate the protein and glycosaminoglycan compositions. These biomaterial scaffolds had suitable compositions, hierarchical nano-to-micro structures, and appropriate mechanical properties to promote cell proliferation in vitro, and vascularization and tissue regeneration in vivo. Compared to previous silk-based scaffolds, these scaffolds achieved improvements in biocompatibility, suggesting promising applications in the future in tissue regeneration.