Biomaterial Inks from Peptide-Functionalized Silk Fibers for 3D Printing of Futuristic Wound-Healing and Sensing Materials

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jan 4;24(2):947. doi: 10.3390/ijms24020947.


This study illustrates the sensing and wound healing properties of silk fibroin in combination with peptide patterns, with an emphasis on the printability of multilayered grids, and envisions possible applications of these next-generation silk-based materials. Functionalized silk fibers covalently linked to an arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) peptide create a platform for preparing a biomaterial ink for 3D printing of grid-like piezoresistors with wound-healing and sensing properties. The culture medium obtained from 3D-printed silk fibroin enriched with RGD peptide improves cell adhesion, accelerating skin repair. Specifically, RGD peptide-modified silk fibroin demonstrated biocompatibility, enhanced cell adhesion, and higher wound closure rates at lower concentration than the neat peptide. It was also shown that the printing of peptide-modified silk fibroin produces a piezoresistive transducer that is the active component of a sensor based on a Schottky diode harmonic transponder encoding information about pressure. We discovered that such biomaterial ink printed in a multilayered grid can be used as a humidity sensor. Furthermore, humidity activates a transition between low and high conductivity states in this medium that is retained unless a negative voltage is applied, paving the way for utilization in non-volatile organic memory devices. Globally, these results pave the way for promising applications, such as monitoring parameters such as human wound care and being integrated in bio-implantable processors.

Keywords: 3D printing; RGD; cytotoxicity; peptide; piezoresistive biomaterials; regenerated silk; wound healing.

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Fibroins* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Ink
  • Peptides
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Silk / chemistry
  • Smart Materials*
  • Wound Healing


  • Silk
  • Fibroins
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Smart Materials
  • Peptides

Grants and funding

This research was received funding from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MUR) under the PRIN Project “Development and promotion of levulinic acid and carboxylate platforms by the formulation of novel and advanced PHA-based biomaterials and their exploitation for 3D-printed green-electronics applications” grant 2017FWC3WC.