Covalent binding of placental derived proteins to silk fibroin improves schwann cell adhesion and proliferation

J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2016 Dec;27(12):188. doi: 10.1007/s10856-016-5783-5. Epub 2016 Nov 5.


Schwann cells play a key role in peripheral nerve regeneration. Failure in sufficient formation of Büngner bands due to impaired Schwann cell proliferation has significant effects on the functional outcome after regeneration. Therefore, the growth substrate for Schwann cells should be considered with highest priority in any peripheral nerve tissue engineering approach. Due to its excellent biocompatibility silk fibroin has most recently attracted considerable interest as a biomaterial for use as conduit material in peripheral nerve regeneration. In this study we established a protocol to covalently bind collagen and laminin, which have been isolated from human placenta, to silk fibroin utilizing carbodiimide chemistry. Altered adhesion, viability and proliferation of Schwann cells were evaluated. A cell adhesion assay revealed that the functionalization with both, laminin or collagen, significantly improved Schwann cell adhesion to silk fibroin. Moreover laminin drastically accelerated adhesion. Schwann cell proliferation and viability assessed with BrdU and MTT assay, respectively, were significantly increased in the laminin-functionalized groups. The results suggest beneficial effects of laminin on both, cell adhesion as well as proliferative behaviour of Schwann cells. To conclude, the covalent tailoring of silk fibroin drastically enhances its properties as a cell substratum for Schwann cells, which might help to overcome current hurdles bridging long distance gaps in peripheral nerve injuries with the use of silk-based nerve guidance conduits.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bombyx
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Collagen / chemistry
  • Female
  • Fibroins / chemistry*
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration / methods
  • Laminin / chemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nerve Regeneration / drug effects
  • Placenta / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Schwann Cells / cytology*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry


  • Laminin
  • Collagen
  • Fibroins