Anisotropic tough double network hydrogel from fish collagen and its spontaneous in vivo bonding to bone.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the properties of fabricating rat tail type I collagen scaffolds cross-linked with genipin under different conditions. The porous genipin cross-linked scaffolds are obtained through a two step freeze-drying process. To find out the optimal cross-link condition, we used different genipin concentrations and various cross-linked temperatures to prepare the scaffolds in this study. The morphologies of the scaffolds were characterized by scanning electron microscope, and the mechanical properties of the scaffolds were evaluated under dynamic compression. Additionally, the cross-linking degree was assessed by ninhydrin assay. To investigate the swelling ratio and the in vitro degradation of the collagen scaffold, the tests were also carried out by immersion of the scaffolds in a PBS solution or digestion in a type I collagenase respectively. The morphologies of the non-cross-linked scaffolds presented a lattice-like structure while the cross-linked ones displayed a sheet-like framework. The morphology of the genipin cross-linked scaffolds could be significantly changed by either increasing genipin concentration or the temperature. The swelling ratio of each cross-linked scaffold was much lower than that of the control (non-cross-linked).The ninhydrin assay demonstrated that the higher temperature and genipin concentration could obviously increase the cross-linking efficiency. The in vitro degradation studies indicated that genipin cross-linking can effectively elevate the biostability of the scaffolds. The biocompatibility and cytotoxicity of the scaffolds was evaluated by culturing rat chondrocytes on the scaffold in vitro and by MTT. The results of MTT and the fact that the chondrocytes adhered well to the scaffolds demonstrated that genipin cross-linked scaffolds possessed an excellent biocompatibility and low cytotoxicity. Based on these results, 0.3 % genipin concentrations and 37 °C cross-linked temperatures are recommended.