A significant body of research has considered collagen as a scaffold material for soft tissue regeneration. The main structural component of extra-cellular matrix (ECM), collagen’s advantages over synthetic polymers are numerous. However, for applications where higher stiffness and stability are required, significant cross-linking may affect bioactivity. A carbodiimide (EDC) cross-linking route consumes carboxylate groups that are key to collagen’s essential cell recognition motifs (GxOGER). Fibrinogen was considered as a promising additive as it plays a key role in the process of wound repair and contains RGD integrin binding sites which bind to a variety of cells, growth factors and cytokines. Fibrinogen’s binding sites however, also contain the same carboxylate groups as collagen. We have successfully produced highly interconnected, porous collagen-fibrinogen scaffolds using a lyophilisation technique and micro-computed tomography demonstrated minimal influence of either fibrinogen content or cross-linking concentration on the scaffold structure. The specific biological effect of fibrinogen additions into cross-linked collagen are considered by using films as a model for the struts of bulk scaffolds. By considering various additions of fibrinogen to the collagen film with increasing degrees of cross-linking, this study demonstrates a significant biological advantage with fibrinogen addition across the cross-linking concentrations typically applied to collagen-based scaffolds.
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