Cytocompatible and water-stable ultrafine collagen fibers were electrospun by dissolving collagen in a low corrosive ethanol-water solvent and crosslinked by citric acid (CA) with glycerol as the crosslinking extender. Conventional solvents used for electrospinning of collagen either cause denaturation or contain more than 50% salt potentially leading to poor mechanical properties and water stability of the scaffolds. Collagen scaffolds have to be modified by techniques, such as, crosslinking to overcome the limitations in strength and stability. However, the existing crosslinking methods are either cytotoxic or ineffective. In this research, a benign ethanol-water solvent system and an extender-aided CA crosslinking method were developed. The native collagen conformation was retained after electrospinning, and the dry/wet strengths and water stability of fibers were substantially enhanced after crosslinking. The crosslinked electrospun scaffolds could maintain their fibrous structure for up to 30 days in phosphate-buffered saline at 37°C. Cells exhibited better attachment and growth on the CA crosslinked collagen fibers than on the glutaraldehyde crosslinked scaffolds.
- citric acid
- solvent system