Tissue engineering aims to restore, maintain, or improve tissue function in the body. Scaffold is one of the main components of tissue engineering that provides a suitable environment for cell attachment and growth, and directs tissue regeneration . Cell attachment is the initial step of new tissue formation and it is closely related with the wettability of the surface. The hydrophobic surface of most biodegradable synthetic polymeric materials is not suitable for polymer–cell interaction. On hydrophilic surfaces, cells generally show better attachment characteristics . For this reason, to improve wetting characteristics of polymer surfaces, many methods have been developed. Plasma surface modification is one of the methods that provide polar functional groups on the polymer surface without affecting the bulk properties. However, hydrophilicity decreases over time due to the rearrangement of polar groups, which is called as hydrophobic recovery .
In this study, poly (3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) mats were fabricated by electrospinning method. The hydrophilicity of the electrospun PHBV nanofiber mats was significantly increased after treatment by radio-frequency (RF) plasma using O2 or N2 gas, as confirmed by contact angle measurements. However, due to hydrophobic recovery, hydrophilicity of the mats decreased over time. The contact angle of the mats was stabilized by silk fibroin (SF) impregnation, which also increased the diameter of the PHBV nanofibers. ATR-FTIR proved the presence of silk fibroin on the mats. Biomineralization results showed that incorporation of SF as well as oxygen plasma strongly activates the precipitation rate of the Ca-P minerals. None of the mats showed cytotoxic effect on SaOS-2 cell and L929 mouse fibroblast-like cells. Nevertheless, nitrogen plasma-treated and silk fibroin modified (PS/N2) mats provided the most favorable environment for SaOS-2 osteoblastic cell attachment and growth. Consequently, the produced PS/N2 nanofiber mat has been shown as a promising candidate for bone tissue engineering applications.
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