Research in Engineering and Aviation

Preliminary investigation of airgap electrospun silk fibroin-based structures for ligament analogue engineering


Author(s): Sell, S.A., McClure, M.J., Ayres, C.E., Simpson, D.G. and G.L. Bowlin

Journal: Journal of Biomaterials Science: Polymer Edition, 22, pp. 1253-1273, 2011. DOI: 10.1163/092050610X504251


The process of electrospinning has proven to be highly beneficial for use in a number of tissue-engineering applications due to its ease of use, flexibility and tailorable properties. There have been many publications on the creation of aligned fibrous structures created through various forms of electrospinning, most involving the use of a metal target rotating at high speeds. This work focuses on the use of a variation known as airgap electrospinning, which does not use a metal collecting target but rather a pair of grounded electrodes equidistant from the charged polymer solution to create highly aligned 3D structures. This study involved a preliminary investigation and comparison of traditionally and airgap electrospun silk-fibroin-based ligament constructs. Structures were characterized with SEM and alignment FFT, and underwent porosity, permeability, and mechanical anisotropy evaluation. Preliminary cell culture with human dermal fibroblasts was performed to determine the degree of cellular orientation and penetration. Results showed airgap electrospun structures to be anisotropic with significantly increased porosity and cellular penetration compared to their traditionally electrospun counterparts.