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Cytocompatible and water stable ultrafine protein fibers for tissue engineering

Qiuran Jiang, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation proposal focuses on the development of cytocompatible and water stable protein ultrafine fibers for tissue engineering. The protein-based ultrafine fibers have the potential to be used for biomedicine, due to their biocompatibility, biodegradability, similarity to natural extracellular matrix (ECM) in physical structure and chemical composition, and superior adsorption properties due to their high surface to volume ratio. However, the current technologies to produce the protein-based ultrafine fibers for biomedical applications still have several problems. For instance, the current electrospinning and phase separation technologies generate scaffolds composed of densely compacted ultrafine fibers, and cells can spread just on the surface of the fiber bulk, and hardly penetrate into the inner sections of scaffolds. Thus, these scaffolds can merely emulate the ECM as a two dimensional basement membrane, but are difficult to mimic the three dimensional ECM stroma. Moreover, the protein-based ultrafine fibers do not possess sufficient water stability and strength for biomedical applications, and need modifications such as crosslinking. However, current crosslinking methods are either high in toxicity or low in crosslinking efficiency. To solve the problems mentioned above, zein, collagen, and gelatin were selected as the raw materials to represent plant proteins, animal proteins, and denatured proteins in this dissertation. A benign solvent system was developed specifically for the fabrication of collagen ultrafine fibers. In addition, the gelatin scaffolds with a loose fibrous structure, high cell-accessibility and cell viability were produced by a novel ultralow concentration phase separation method aiming to simulate the structure of three dimensional (3D) ECM stroma. Non-toxic crosslinking methods using citric acid as the crosslinker were also developed for electrospun or phase separated scaffolds from these three proteins, and proved to be efficient to enhance the strength and water stability of scaffolds. The crosslinked protein scaffolds showed higher cytocompatibility than the polylactic acid scaffolds and the fibers crosslinked by glutaraldehyde. The potential of using these protein-based ultrafine fibers crosslinked by citric acid for tissue engineering has been proved in this dissertation.

Subject Area

Biomedical engineering|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Jiang, Qiuran, "Cytocompatible and water stable ultrafine protein fibers for tissue engineering" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3522511.