Graphene and silk fibroin (SF) have been extensively investigated in the literature. Hybrid scaffolds of SF and graphene combine the properties of both of the materials and provide promising applications for tissue engineering purposes. In this study, reduced graphene oxide (RGO) (0.5%, 1.0% and 2.0% (w/v)) was incorporated into SF and fabricated into composite nanofibers through electrospinning. The fibers were characterized and analyzed by SEM, XRD, FTIR, TGA, circular dichroism analysis, contact angle measurements and tensile tests. Here, we document that the presence of RGO increases intermolecular forces between RGO and SF molecular chains in the SF matrix, which results in an increased silk II content. Upon the incorporation of RGO, thermal stability and mechanical properties of the fibers significantly improved. Furthermore, in-vitro findings showed that composite nanofibers supported cell viability and were hemocompatible. Finally, bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells were induced osteogenically on electrospun SF/RGO mats for 30days, which showed that the substrate supported osteogenic differentiation. In this study, a feasible method is proposed to generate biocompatible and versatile SF/RGO-composite nanofibers that can influence biomedical applications.
Keywords: Nanofibrous composite biomaterials; Reduced graphene oxide; Silk fibroin.
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