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Research Letters in Nanotechnology
Volume 2009, Article ID 614301, 4 pages
Research Letter

Protein Fibrillar Hydrogels for three-Dimensional Tissue Engineering

1Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre & School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, University of Manchester, 131 Princess Street, Manchester M60 1QD, UK
2Department of Engineering Physics and Mathematics and Centre for New Materials, Helsinki University of Technology, P. O. Box 2200, TKK 02015, Finland
3Smith and Nephew Research Centre, York Science Park, Heslington, York YO10 5DF, UK

Received 8 April 2009; Accepted 17 June 2009

Academic Editor: Maryam Tabrizian

Copyright © 2009 Hui Yan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Protein self-assembly into highly ordered fibrillar aggregates has attracted increasing attention over recent years, due primarily to its association with disease states such as Alzheimer's. More recently, however, research has focused on understanding the generic behavior of protein self-assembly where fibrillation is typically induced under harsh conditions of low pH and/or high temperature. Moreover the inherent properties of these fibrils, including their nanoscale dimension, environmental responsiveness, and biological compatibility, are attracting substantial interest for exploiting these fibrils for the creation of new materials. Here we will show how protein fibrils can be formed under physiological conditions and their subsequent gelation driven using the ionic strength of cell culture media while simultaneously incorporating cells homogeneously throughout the gel network. The fibrillar and elastic nature of the gel have been confirmed using cryo-transmission electron microscopy and oscillatory rheology, respectively; while cell culture work shows that our hydrogels promote cell spreading, attachment, and proliferation in three dimensions.