The incorporation of hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles within or on the surface of electrospun polymeric scaffolds is a popular approach for bone tissue engineering. However, the fabrication of osteoconductive composite scaffolds via benign processing conditions still remains a major challenge to date. In this work, a new method was developed to achieve a uniform coating of calcium phosphate (CaP) onto electrospun keratin-polycaprolactone composites (Keratin-PCL). Keratin within PCL was crosslinked to decrease its solubility, before coating of CaP. A homogeneous coating was achieved within a short time frame (~10min) by immersing the scaffolds into Ca(2+) and (PO4)(3-) solutions separately. Results showed that the incorporation of keratin into PCL scaffolds not only provided nucleation sites for Ca(2+) adsorption and subsequent homogeneous CaP surface deposition, but also facilitated cell-matrix interactions. An improvement in the mechanical strength of the resultant composite scaffold, as compared to other conventional coating methods, was also observed. This approach of developing a biocompatible bone tissue engineering scaffold would be adopted for further in vitro osteogenic differentiation studies in the future.
Keywords: Crosslinking; Electrospinning; Hydroxyapatite; Keratin; Surface coating.
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