Hybrid hydrogels based on keratin and alginate for tissue engineering
Novel hybrid hydrogels based on alginate and keratin were successfully produced for the first time. The self-assembly properties of keratin, and its ability to mimic the extracellular matrix were combined with the excellent chemical and mechanical stability and biocompatibility of alginate to produce 2D and 3D hybrid hydrogels. These hybrid hydrogels were prepared using two different approaches: sonication, to obtain 2D hydrogels, and a pressure-driven extrusion technique to produce 3D hydrogels. All results indicated that the composition of the hydrogels had a significant effect on their physical properties, and that they can easily be tuned to obtain materials suitable for biological applications. The cell–material interaction was assessed through the use of human umbilical vein endothelial cells, and the results demonstrated that the alginate/keratin hybrid biomaterials supported cell attachment, spreading and proliferation. The results proved that such novel hybrid hydrogels might find applications as scaffolds for soft tissue regeneration.