Synthesis and Properties of Silk Fibroin/Konjac Glucomannan Blend Beads

Silk fibroin (SF) and konjac glucomannan (KGM) are promising materials in the biomedical field due to their low toxicity, biocompatibility, biodegradability and low immune response. Beads of these natural polymers are interesting scaffolds for biomedical applications, but their fabrication is a challenge due to their low stability and the necessary adaptation of their chemical and mechanical properties to be successfully applied. In that sense, this study aimed to synthesize a blend of silk fibroin and konjac glucomannan (SF/KGM) in the form of porous beads obtained through dripping into liquid nitrogen, with a post-treatment using ethanol. Intermolecular hydrogen bonds promoted the integration of SF and KGM. Treated beads showed higher porous size, crystallinity, and stability than untreated beads. Characterization analyses by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric (TGA), and X-ray diffraction (XDR) evidenced that ethanol treatment allows a conformational transition from silk I to silk II in SF and an increase in the KGM deacetylation. Those chemical changes significantly enhanced the mechanical resistance of SF/KGM beads in comparison to pure SF and KGM beads. Moreover, samples showed cytocompatibility with HaCaT and BALB/c 3T3 cells.

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