Multilayer Electrospun-Aligned Fibroin/Gelatin Implant for Annulus Fibrosus Repair: An In Vitro and In Vivo Evaluation

Ming Hsiao Hu, Kai Chiang Yang, Chih Wei Chen, Po Han Chu, Yun Liang Chang, Yuan Hui Sun, Feng Huei Lin, Shu Hua Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Annulus fibrosus (AF) damage is proven to prompt intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration, and unrepaired AF lesions after surgical discectomy may boost herniation of the nucleus pulposus (NP) which may lead to further compression of neural structures. Moreover, vascular and neural ingrowth may occur within the defect which is known as a possible reason for discogenic pain. Due to a limited healing capacity, an effective strategy to repair and close the AF defect is necessary. In this study, using electrospinning technology, two nature polymers, silk fibroin and gelatin, were linked to imitate the unique lamellae structure of native AF. Our findings revealed that a multilayer electrospun-aligned fibroin/gelatin scaffold with mechanical and morphological properties mimicking those of native AF lamellae have been developed. The average diameter of the nanofiber is 162.9 ± 38.8 nm. The young’s modulus is around 6.70 MPa with an ultimate tensile strength of around 1.81 MP along preferred orientation. The in vitro test confirmed its biocompatibility and ability to maintain cell viability and colonization. Using a porcine model, we demonstrated that the multilayer-aligned scaffold offered a crucial microenvironment to induce collagen fibrous tissue production within native AF defect. In the implant-repaired AF, H&E staining showed homogeneous fibroblast-like cell infiltration at the repaired defect with very little vascular ingrowth, which was confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging findings. Picrosirius red staining and immunohistochemical staining against type I collagen revealed positively stained fibrous tissue in an aligned pattern within the implant-integrated site. Relative to the intact control group, the disc height index of the serial X-ray decreased significantly in both the injury control and implant group at 4 weeks and 8 weeks (p < 0.05) which indicated this scaffold may not reverse the degenerative process. However, the results of the discography showed that the effectiveness of annulus repair of the implant group is much superior to that of the untreated group. The scaffold, composed with nature fibroin/gelatin polymers, could potentially enhance AF healing that could prevent IVD recurrent herniation, as well as neural and neovascular ingrowth after discectomy surgeries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2107
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • annulus fibrosis
  • electrospinning
  • fibroin
  • intervertebral disc
  • multilayer scaffold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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