Silk fibroin scaffolds with inverse opal structure for bone tissue engineering

M.R. Sommer, J.R. Vetsch, J. Leemann, R. Müller, A.R. Studart, S. Hofmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
165 Downloads (Pure)


How scaffold porosity, pore diameter and geometry influence cellular behavior is-although heavily researched - merely understood, especially in 3D. This is mainly caused by a lack of suitable, reproducible scaffold fabrication methods, with processes such as gas foaming, lyophilization or particulate leaching still being the standard. Here we propose a method to generate highly porous silk fibroin scaffolds with monodisperse spherical pores, namely inverse opals, and study their effect on cell behavior. These silk fibroin inverse opal scaffolds were compared to salt-leached silk fibroin scaffolds in terms of human mesenchymal stem cell response upon osteogenic differentiation signals. While cell number remained similar on both scaffold types, extracellular matrix mineralization nearly doubled on the newly developed scaffolds, suggesting a positive effect on cell differentiation. By using the very same material with comparable average pore diameters, this increase in mineral content can be attributed to either the differences in pore diameter distribution or the pore geometry. Although the exact mechanisms leading to enhanced mineralization in inverse opals are not yet fully understood, our results indicate that control over pore geometry alone can have a major impact on the bioactivity of a scaffold toward stem cell differentiation into bone tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2074-2084
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research, Part B: Applied Biomaterials
Issue number7
Early online date13 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • bone tissue engineering
  • human mesenchymal stem cells
  • scaffold
  • silk fibroin
  • porous structure
  • Humans
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells/cytology
  • Fibroins/chemistry
  • Bone and Bones/cytology
  • Tissue Scaffolds/chemistry
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Porosity
  • Osteogenesis
  • Tissue Engineering


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