Institute of Functional Interfaces

Resemblance of Electrospun Collagen Nanofibers to Their Native Structure

  • chair:

    Bürck, J. / Heissler, S. / Geckle, U. / Ardakani, M. F. / Schneider, R. / Ulrich, A. S. / Kazanci, M. (2013)

  • place:

    Langmuir 29 (2013), 5, 1562–1572

  • Date: 2013
  • Bürck, J. / Heissler, S. / Geckle, U. / Ardakani, M. F. / Schneider, R. / Ulrich, A. S. / Kazanci, M. (2013): „Resemblance of Electrospun Collagen Nanofibers to Their Native Structure“. In: Langmuir 29 (2013), 5, 1562–1572


Electrospinning is a promising method to mimic the native structure of the extracellular matrix. Collagen is the material of choice, since it is a natural fibrous structural protein. It is an open question how much the spinning process preserves or alters the native structure of collagen. There are conflicting results in the literature, mainly due to the different solvent systems in use and due to the fact that gelatin is employed as a reference state for the completely unfolded state of collagen in calculations.


Here we used circular dichroism (CD) and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) to investigate the structure of regenerated collagen samples and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to illuminate the electrospun nanofibers. Collagen is mostly composed of folded and unfolded structures with different ratios, depending on the applied temperature. Therefore, CD spectra were acquired as a temperature series during thermal denaturation of native calf skin collagen type I and used as a reference basis to extract the degree of collagen folding in the regenerated electrospun samples. We discussed three different approaches to determine the folded fraction of collagen, based on CD spectra of collagen from 185 to 260 nm, since it would not be sufficient to obtain simply the fraction of folded structure θ from the ellipticity at a single wavelength of 221.5 nm.


We demonstrated that collagen almost completely unfolded in fluorinated solvents and partially preserved its folded structure θ in HAc/EtOH. However, during the spinning process it refolded and the PP-II fraction increased. Nevertheless, it did not exceed 42% as deduced from the different secondary structure evaluation methods, discussed here. PP-II fractions in electrospun collagen nanofibers were almost same, being independent from the initial solvent systems which were used to solubilize the collagen for electrospinning process.



Download [PDF]