Silk fibroin is regarded as a natural fibrous protein with tunable mechanical properties, acceptable biocompatibility, and favorable capability of enhancing attachment, proliferation, and differentiation of chondrocytes. These properties make it suitable for the fabrication of scaffolds and a broad range of silk fibroin-based biomaterials for cartilage regenerative therapy, which can heal functional cartilage without scar tissue. It can be used as a single material for making different kinds of scaffolds or as a composite with other types of biomaterials. Together with some growth factors, silk fibroin scaffolds can form a support for the growth and differentiation of seeding cells, such as chondrogenic lineage cells and mesenchymal stem cells. Recent advancements of silk fibroin in cartilage regeneration are summarized in this review. Furthermore, the manufacturing methods of silk fibroin materials and their applications in the regeneration of cartilage are also discussed.
Keywords: cartilage regeneration; fabrication methods; scaffolds; silk fibroin.