Versatile Potential of Photo-Cross-Linkable Silk Fibroin: Roadmap from Chemical Processing Toward Regenerative Medicine and Biofabrication Applications

Jhaleh Amirian, Jacek K Wychowaniec, Ehsan Amel Zendehdel, Gaurav Sharma, Agnese Brangule (Coresponding Author), Dace Bandere (Coresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Over the past two decades, hydrogels have come to the forefront of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine due to their biocompatibility, tunable degradation and low immunogenicity. Due to their porosity and polymeric network built up, it is possible to incorporate inside drugs, bioactive molecules, or other biochemically active monomers. Among biopolymers used for the fabrication of functional hydrogels, silk fibroin (SF) has received considerable research attention owing to its known biocompatibility and tunable range of mechanical properties. However, its relatively simple structure limits the potential usability. One of the emerging strategies is a chemical functionalization of SF, allowing for the introduction of methacrylate groups. This allows the versatile processing capability, including photo-cross-linking, which makes SF a useful polymer as a bioink for 3D printing. The methacrylation reaction has been done using numerous monomers such as methacrylic anhydride (MA), 2-isocyanatoethyl methacrylate (IEM), or glycidyl methacrylate (GMA). In this Review, we summarize the chemical functionalization strategies of SF materials and their resulting physicochemical properties. More specifically, a brief explanation of the different functionalization methods, the cross-linking principles, possibilities, and limitations of methacrylate compound functionalization are provided. In addition, we describe types of functional SF hydrogels and link their design principles to the performance in applications in the broad fields of biofabrication, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. We anticipate that the provided guidelines will contribute to the future development of SF hydrogels and their composites by providing the rational design of new mechanisms linked to the successful realization of targeted biomedical application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2957-2981
Number of pages25
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2023


  • Fibroins/chemistry
  • Hydrogels/chemistry
  • Polymers/chemistry
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Silk
  • Tissue Engineering/methods
  • Tissue Scaffolds/chemistry

Field of Science*

  • 1.4 Chemical sciences
  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 3.4 Medical biotechnology

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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