Silk-Based Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications

  • Bianca Galateanu
  • Ariana Hudita
  • Catalin Zaharia
  • Mihaela-Cristina Bunea
  • Eugenia Vasile
  • Mihaela-Ramona Buga
  • Marieta CostacheEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Polymers and Polymeric Composites: A Reference Series book series (POPOC)


Among the naturally occurring fibers, silk occupies a special position due to its properties. Silk fibroins, the unique proteins of silkworm fibers, are high-molecular-weight block copolymers consisting of a heavy (~370 kDa) and a light (~26 kDa) chain with varying amphiphilicity linked by a single disulphide bond. Bombyx mori silk is the most characterized silkworm silk. Researchers have investigated fibroin as one of the promising resources of biotechnology and biomedical materials due to its other unique properties including excellent biocompatibility, favorable oxygen permeability, and outstanding biodegradability, and the degradation product can be readily absorbed by the body with minimal inflammatory reaction. Silk hydrogels have been thoroughly studied for potential biotechnological applications due to their mechanical properties, biocompatibility, controllable degradation rates, and self-assembly into β-sheet networks. Hydrogels made from silk proteins have shown a potential in overcoming limitations of hydrogels prepared from conventional polymers. This chapter offers overview of the recent developments in silk protein-based hydrogels, both of fibroin and sericin proteins. It describes the approaches for obtaining silk hydrogels and ideas to improve the existing properties or to incorporate new features in the hydrogels by making composites. Characterization tools and modern bioapplications of the silk hydrogels for tissue engineering and controlled release are also reviewed. A special focus is given to silk fibroin composite hydrogels for bone tissue engineering applications.


Silk fibroin Graphene oxide Composite hydrogels Bone tissue engineering Biocompatibility 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bianca Galateanu
    • 1
  • Ariana Hudita
    • 1
  • Catalin Zaharia
    • 2
  • Mihaela-Cristina Bunea
    • 2
  • Eugenia Vasile
    • 2
  • Mihaela-Ramona Buga
    • 3
  • Marieta Costache
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Advanced Polymer Materials GroupUniversity Politehnica of BucharestBucharestRomania
  3. 3.National Research and Development Institute for Cryogenics and Isotopic TechnologiesRamnicu ValceaRomania

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