Substrate mechanical properties have remarkable influences on cell behavior and tissue regeneration. Although salt-leached silk scaffolds have been used in tissue engineering, applications in softer tissue regeneration can be encumbered with excessive stiffness. In the present study, silk-bound water interactions were regulated by controlling processing to allow the preparation of salt-leached porous scaffolds with tunable mechanical properties. Increasing silk-bound water interactions resulted in reduced silk II (β-sheet crystal) formation during salt-leaching, which resulted in a modulus decrease in the scaffolds. The microstructures as well as degradation behavior were also changed, implying that this water control and salt-leaching approach can be used to achieve tunable mechanical properties. Considering the utility of silk in various fields of biomedicine, the results point to a new approach to generate silk scaffolds with controllable properties to better mimic soft tissues by combining scaffold preparation methods and silk self-assembly in aqueous solutions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry