MA de Moraes, T Crouzier, M Rubner, MM Beppu
Biomacromolecules 16 (1), 97-104
Publication year: 2014

 

The layer-by-layer technique has been used as a powerful method to produce multilayer thin films with tunable properties. When natural polymers are employed, complicated phenomena such as self-aggregation and fibrilogenesis can occur, making it more difficult to obtain and characterize high-quality films. The weak acid and base character of such materials provides multilayer systems that may differ from those found with synthetic polymers due to strong self-organization effects. Specifically, LbL films prepared with chitosan and silk fibroin (SF) often involve the deposition of fibroin fibrils, which can influence the assembly process, surface properties, and overall film functionality. In this case, one has the intriguing possibility of realizing multilayer thin films with aligned nanofibers. In this article, we propose a strategy to control fibroin fibril formation by adjusting the assembly partner. Aligned fibroin fibrils were formed when chitosan was used as the counterpart, whereas no fibrils were observed when poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) was used. Charge density, which is higher in PAH, apparently stabilizes SF aggregates on the nanometer scale, thereby preventing their organization into fibrils. The drying step between the deposition of each layer was also crucial for film formation, as it stabilizes the SF molecules. Preliminary cell studies with optimized multilayers indicated that cell viability of NIH-3T3 fibroblasts remained between 90 and 100% after surface seeding, showing the potential application of the films in the biomedical field, as coatings and functional surfaces.