Synthesis and Biocompatibility Characterizations of in Situ Chondroitin Sulfate–Gelatin Hydrogel for Tissue Engineering
For successful tissue engineering of articular cartilage, a scaffold with mechanical properties that match those of natural cartilage as closely as possible is needed. In the present study, we prepared a fibrous silk fibroin (SF)/poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) scaffold via electrospinning and investigated the morphological, mechanical, and degradation properties of the scaffolds fabricated using different electrospinning conditions, including collection distance, working voltage, and the SF:PLLA mass ratio. In addition, in vitro cell-scaffold interactions were evaluated in terms of chondrocyte adhesion to the scaffolds as well as the cytotoxicity and cytocompatibility of the scaffolds. The optimum electrospinning conditions for generating a fibrous SF/PLLA scaffold with the best surface morphology (ordered alignment and suitable diameter) and tensile strength (~1.5 MPa) were a collection distance of 20 cm, a working voltage of 15 kV, and a SF:PLLA mass ratio of S50P50. The degradation rate of the SF/PLLA scaffolds was found to be determined by the SF:PLLA mass ratio, and it could be increased by reducing the PLLA proportion. Furthermore, chondrocytes spread well on the fibrous SF/PLLA scaffolds and secreted extracellular matrix, indicating good adhesion to the scaffold. The cytotoxicity of SF/PLLA scaffold extract to chondrocytes over 24 and 48 h in culture was low, indicating that the SF/PLLA scaffolds are biocompatible. Chondrocytes grew well on the SF/PLLA scaffold after 1, 3, 5, and 7 days of direct contact, indicating the good cytocompatibility of the scaffold. These results demonstrate that the fibrous SF/PLLA scaffold represents a promising composite material for use in cartilage tissue engineering.