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Abstract

The attachment and growth of L-929 cells on films made of Bombyx mori silk proteins—fibroin and sericin and their mixtures—was studied by a cell culture method. Both cell attachment and growth were dependent on a minimum of around 90% sericin in the mixture. The results from electron micrography as well as from the DSC measurements supported the notion that the mixture of the two proteins fibroin and sericin has a phase-separated structure in the solid state. The observed minimum of sericin in the cell attachment and growth is thought to be a result of this phase-separated structure. Films of pure component proteins (i.e., 100% fibroin or sericin) exhibited as high a cell attachment and growth as collagen, a widely used mammalian cell culture substrate. However, a morphological study of the attached cells revealed that the cells attached to silk fibroin were extended and had a spindle shape, just like the cells attached to collagen, while the cells attached to the silk sericin had a different shape. It is concluded, therefore, that the attachment condition on silk fibroin is ideal for the viability, growth and function of the cells. © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.