Journal of applied biomaterials & functional materials

Degradation of silk films in multipocket corneal stromal rabbit models.

PMID 27230452


The need for human cornea tissues continues to grow as an alternative option to donor tissues. Silk protein has been successfully used as a substrate to engineer corneal epithelium and stroma in vitro. Herein, we investigated the in vivo response and the effect of silk crystalline structure (beta sheet) on degradation rate of silk films in rabbit multipocket corneal models. Three different surgical techniques (peripheral-median P-M, central-superficial C-S, central-deep C-D) were used to assess the in vivo response as well as the degradation profile of silk films with low, medium and high beta sheet (crystalline) content at 2 and 3 months after surgery. Approach C-D showed signs of sample degradation without inflammation, with one single incision and a pocket created by flushing air two thirds deep in the corneal stroma. In comparison, approaches P-M and C-S with multiple incisions presented manually dissected surgical pockets resulted in inflammation and possible extrusion of the samples, respectively. Low beta sheet samples lost structural integrity at 2 months after surgery C-D, while medium and high beta sheet content films showed initial evidence of degradation. The in vivo response to the silk films was dependent on the location of the implant and pocket depth. Crystallinity content in silk films played a significant role in the timing of material degradation, without signs of inflammation and vascularization or changes in stromal organization.