Crosslinked alpha-elastin biomaterials: towards a processable elastin mimetic scaffold

Acta Biomater. 2005 Mar;1(2):155-64. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2004.12.001. Epub 2005 Jan 12.


Elastin is a critical biochemical and biomechanical component of vascular tissue. However, elastin is also highly insoluble and therefore difficult to process into new biomaterials. We present a simple approach for synthesizing elastin-based materials from two commercially available and water-soluble components: alpha-elastin and a diepoxy crosslinker. Reaction pH was shown to modulate the degree of crosslinking, as demonstrated by materials characterized with a range of swelling ratios (approximately 10-25), enzymatic degradation rates (approximately 8-50% per h in 0.1 u/ml elastase), and elastic moduli (approximately 4-120 kPa). Crosslinking with a combination alkaline and neutral pH process results in materials with the highest degree of crosslinks, as indicated by a swelling ratio of 10, slow degradation rate, and high elastic moduli (approximately 120 kPa). Furthermore, the crosslinked alpha-elastin materials support vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) adhesion and a decreased proliferation rate compared to polystyrene controls. The functional outcomes of the crosslinking reaction, including the dependence of structure-function properties on reaction pH, are discussed. Our approach towards 'processable' elastin-based materials is versatile and could be integrated into existing tissue engineering methodologies to enhance biomaterial performance by providing a natural elastomeric and biofunctional component.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Elasticity
  • Elastin / chemistry*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Molecular Mimicry*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / cytology
  • Tissue Engineering


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Elastin