Cross-linked self-assembling peptide scaffolds

Raffaele Pugliese, Amanda Marchini, Gloria Anna Ada Saracino, Ronald N. Zuckermann, Fabrizio Gelain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-assembling peptides (SAPs) are synthetic bioinspired biomaterials that can be feasibly multi-functionalized for cell transplantation and/or drug delivery therapies. Despite their superior biocompatibility and ease of scaling-up for production, they are unfortunately hampered by weak mechanical properties due to transient non-covalent interactions among and within the self-assembled peptide chains, thus limiting their potential applications as fillers, hemostat solutions, and fragile scaffolds for soft tissues. Here, we have developed and characterized a cross-linking strategy that increases both the stiffness and the tailorability of SAP hydrogels, enabling the preparation of transparent flexible threads, discs, channels, and hemispherical constructs. Empirical and computational results, in close agreement with each other, confirmed that the cross-linking reaction does not affect the previously self-assembled secondary structures. In vitro tests also provided a first hint of satisfactory biocompatibility by favoring viability and differentiation of human neural stem cells. This work could bring self-assembling peptide technology to many applications that have been precluded so far, especially in regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-602
Number of pages17
JournalNano Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • co-assembling peptide
  • cross-linking
  • self-assembling peptide
  • sulfo-SMCC
  • supramolecular self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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