Photo-crosslinkable recombinant collagen mimics for tissue engineering applications
Gelatin is frequently used in various biomedical applications. However, gelatin is generally extracted from an animal source, which can result in issues with reproducibility as well as pathogen transmittance. Therefore, we have investigated the potential of a recombinant peptide based on collagen I (RCPhC1) for tissue engineering applications and more specifically for adipose tissue regeneration. In the current paper, RCPhC1 was functionalized with photo-crosslinkable methacrylamide moieties to enable subsequent UV-induced crosslinking in the presence of a photo-initiator. The resulting biomaterial (RCPhC1-MA) was characterized by evaluating the crosslinking behaviour, the mechanical properties, the gel fraction, the swelling properties and the biocompatibility. The obtained results were compared with the data obtained for methacrylamide-modified gelatin (Gel-MA). The results indicated that the properties of RCPhC1-MA networks are comparable to those of animal-derived Gel-MA. RCPhC1-MA is thus an attractive synthetic alternative for animal-derived Gel-MA and is envisioned to be applicable for a wide range of tissue engineering purposes.