Biofunctional Ionic-Doped Calcium Phosphates: Silk Fibroin Composites for Bone Tissue Engineering Scaffolding

Cells Tissues Organs. 2017;204(3-4):150-163. doi: 10.1159/000469703. Epub 2017 Aug 12.


The treatment and regeneration of bone defects caused by traumatism or diseases have not been completely addressed by current therapies. Lately, advanced tools and technologies have been successfully developed for bone tissue regeneration. Functional scaffolding materials such as biopolymers and bioresorbable fillers have gained particular attention, owing to their ability to promote cell adhesion, proliferation, and extracellular matrix production, which promote new bone growth. Here, we present novel biofunctional scaffolds for bone regeneration composed of silk fibroin (SF) and β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) and incorporating Sr, Zn, and Mn, which were successfully developed using salt-leaching followed by a freeze-drying technique. The scaffolds presented a suitable pore size, porosity, and high interconnectivity, adequate for promoting cell attachment and proliferation. The degradation behavior and compressive mechanical strengths showed that SF/ionic-doped TCP scaffolds exhibit improved characteristics for bone tissue engineering when compared with SF scaffolds alone. The in vitro bioactivity assays using a simulated body fluid showed the growth of an apatite layer. Furthermore, in vitro assays using human adipose-derived stem cells presented different effects on cell proliferation/differentiation when varying the doping agents in the biofunctional scaffolds. The incorporation of Zn into the scaffolds led to improved proliferation, while the Sr- and Mn-doped scaffolds presented higher osteogenic potential as demonstrated by DNA quantification and alkaline phosphatase activity. The combination of Sr with Zn led to an influence on cell proliferation and osteogenesis when compared with single ions. Our results indicate that biofunctional ionic-doped composite scaffolds are good candidates for further in vivo studies on bone tissue regeneration.

Keywords: Biocomposites; Bone tissue engineering; Manganese; Silk fibroin; Strontium; Tricalcium phosphate; Zinc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Biocompatible Materials / pharmacology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone and Bones / cytology
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / physiology
  • Calcium Phosphates / chemistry*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Fibroins / chemistry*
  • Fibroins / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tissue Scaffolds


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Calcium Phosphates
  • Fibroins