Silk Fibroin as Adjuvant in the Fabrication of Mechanically Stable Fibrin Biocomposites

Ikram El Maachi, Stavroula Kyriakou, Stephan Rütten, Alexander Kopp, Marius Köpf, Stefan Jockenhoevel*, Alicia Fernández-Colino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Fibrin is a very attractive material for the development of tissue-engineered scaffolds due to its exceptional bioactivity, versatility in the fabrication, affinity to cell mediators; and the possibility to isolate it from blood plasma, making it autologous. However, fibrin application is greatly limited due to its low mechanical properties, fast degradation, and strong contraction in the presence of cells. In this study, we present a new strategy to overcome these drawbacks by combining it with another natural polymer: silk fibroin. Specifically, we fabricated biocomposites of fibrin (5 mg/mL) and silk fibroin (0.1, 0.5 and 1% w/w) by using a dual injection system, followed by ethanol annealing. The shear elastic modulus increased from 23 ± 5 Pa from fibrin alone, to 67 ± 22 Pa for fibrin/silk fibroin 0.1%, 241 ± 67 Pa for fibrin/silk fibroin 0.5% and 456 ± 32 Pa for fibrin/silk fibroin 1%. After culturing for 27 days with strong contractile cells (primary human arterial smooth muscle cells), fibrin/silk fibroin 0.5% and fibrin/silk fibroin 1% featured minimal cell-mediated contraction (ca. 15 and 5% respectively) in contrast with the large surface loss of the pure fibrin scaffolds (ca. 95%). Additionally, the composites enabled the formation of a proper endothelial cell layer after culturing with human primary endothelial cells under standard culture conditions. Overall, the fibrin/silk fibroin composites, manufactured within this study by a simple and scalable biofabrication approach, offer a promising avenue to boost the applicability of fibrin in tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2251
Number of pages19
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022


  • GEL
  • bioprocessing
  • cell-adhesion
  • mechanical stability
  • protein-based polymers
  • scaffolds
  • tissue engineering

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