Degradation products of crosslinked silk fibroin scaffolds modulate the immune response but not cell toxicity

Jiranuwat Sapudom, Mesayamas Kongsema, Apipon Methachittipan, Siriporn Damrongsakkul, Sorada Kanokpanont, Jeremy C.M. Teo, Mattaka Khongkow, Khaow Tonsomboon, Peerapat Thongnuek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Silk fibroin (SF) scaffolds have widely been used as functional materials for tissue engineering and implantation. For long-term applications, many cross-linking strategies have been developed to enhance the stability and enzymatic degradation of scaffolds. Although the biocompatibility of SF scaffolds has been investigated, less is known about the extent to which the degradation products of these scaffolds affect the host response in the long term after implantation. In this work, we first studied the effect of two different crosslinkers, namely, 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl-carbodiimide hydrochloride) (EDC) and glutaraldehyde (GA), on the topology, mechanical stability and enzymatic degradation of SF scaffolds. We found that the SF scaffolds treated with GA (GA-SF) appeared to show an increase in the sheet thickness and a higher elastic modulus when compared to that treated with EDC (EDC-SF) at a similar level of crosslinking degree. The uncrosslinked and both crosslinked SF scaffolds were completely digested by proteinase K but were not susceptible to degradation by collagenase type IV and trypsin. We next investigated the effect of the degradation of SF on the cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and immunogenicity. The results demonstrated that the degradation products of the uncrosslinked and crosslinked SFs did not trigger cell proliferation, cell death, or genotoxicity in primary human cells, while they appeared to modulate the phenotypes of macrophages. The degradation products of GA-SF promoted pro-inflammatory phenotypes, while those from EDC-SF enhanced polarization towards anti-inflammatory macrophages. Our results demonstrated that the degradation products of SF scaffolds can mediate the immune modulation of macrophages, which can be implemented as a therapeutic strategy to control the long-term immune response during implantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry B
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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