The miscibility and spatial distribution of the components in electrospun polymer–protein mats†
Biodegradable blended electrospun mats are promising for biomedical applications such as wound dressing, tissue engineering, and drug delivery. Electrospun mats based on polyesters can be modified by the addition of other polymers or proteins to accelerate the degradation, improve mechanical properties or biocompatibility. However, relatively little is known about the distribution of the components throughout the blended mats. In the present work, we prepared polylactide (PLA), bovine serum albumin (BSA), and the blended PLA–BSA electrospun mats. We demonstrated that PLA and BSA are miscible in a common solvent HFIP (1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoro-2-propanol) at concentrations below 3%, but become immiscible as concentration increases. We used three methods (fluorescence microscopy, EDX, and Raman microspectroscopy) to validate that PLA and BSA can be blended in a single electrospun fiber despite the phase separation in the blend. The homogeneity of the blend influences on the homogeneity of the distribution of PLA and BSA components throughout the electrospun mat, as measured by Raman microspectroscopy. When the blended electrospun mats were incubated in water, they demonstrated the prolonged release of BSA. The presented results show a step-by-step approach for manufacturing blended electrospun mats made of immiscible components, which involves the analysis of component miscibility, the mat morphology, and composition. This approach can be used for the rational design of multicomponent electrospun mats.