DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202313204 ISSN: 1616-301X

Protein‐Engineered Elastin Fibers as Building Blocks for The Textile‐Based Assembly of Tissue Equivalents

Ikram El Maachi, Alexander Loewen, Sergio Acosta, Stephan Rütten, J. Carlos Rodríguez‐Cabello, Stefan Jockenhoevel, Alicia Fernández‐Colino
  • Electrochemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Biomaterials
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


Native tissues feature unique hierarchical designs, in which fiber units are arranged from the bottom up in anisotropic patterns. The processing of biomaterials into fibers, followed by their textile‐like assembly into complex patterns, is therefore a promising avenue to engineer native‐like tissue replacements. Here it is shown for the first time the fabrication of meter‐long hydrogel fibers prepared from engineered elastin using a microinjection system and exploiting the catalyst‐free click chemistry. Given their similarity to native elastin, the fabricated elastin‐like fibers achieved excellent stretching (500%) and recoiling performance. Moreover, the fabrication scheme is compatible with the implementation of a salt‐leaching gas‐foaming approach, resulting in highly porous elastin‐like fibers (the first of their kind). From the translation perspective, the fibers can be autoclaved, which allows for sterilization and long‐term storage. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells cultured on autoclaved fibers produced a confluent endothelial layer lining the fiber surface, in which the cells became aligned in response to physiological fiber stretching. It is also shown that these functional fibers can be assembled by weaving, braiding and knitting, with various spatial patterns. Overall, the elastin‐like fibers can be used as building blocks for the reconstruction of functional tissues using the principles of textile technology.

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