Biomedical applications of silk and its role for intervertebral disc repair

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleContributedpeer-review


  • Andreas S. Croft - (Author)
  • Eugenia Spessot - (Author)
  • Promita Bhattacharjee - (Author)
  • Yuejiao Yang - (Author)
  • Antonella Motta - (Author)
  • Michael Wöltje - , Chair of Textile Technology (Author)
  • Benjamin Gantenbein - (Author)


Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration (IDD) is the main contributor to chronic low back pain. To date, the present therapies mainly focus on treating the symptoms caused by IDD rather than addressing the problem itself. For this reason, researchers have searched for a suitable biomaterial to repair and/or regenerate the IVD. A promising candidate to fill this gap is silk, which has already been used as a biomaterial for many years. Therefore, this review aims first to elaborate on the different origins from which silk is harvested, the individual composition, and the characteristics of each silk type. Another goal is to enlighten why silk is so suitable as a biomaterial, discuss its functionalization, and how it could be used for tissue engineering purposes. The second part of this review aims to provide an overview of preclinical studies using silk-based biomaterials to repair the inner region of the IVD, the nucleus pulposus (NP), and the IVD's outer area, the annulus fibrosus (AF). Since the NP and the AF differ fundamentally in their structure, different therapeutic approaches are required. Consequently, silk-containing hydrogels have been used mainly to repair the NP, and silk-based scaffolds have been used for the AF. Although most preclinical studies have shown promising results in IVD-related repair and regeneration, their clinical transition is yet to come.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1225
Number of pages21
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

External IDs

Scopus 85139394022
WOS 000864513100001
PubMed 36601376
Mendeley ea8360ad-6939-3df2-b83a-975ccef43a35


ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Bombyx mori, Degeneration, Functionalization, Intervertebral disc, Low back pain, Regeneration, Repair, Silk, Stem cells, silk, repair, stem cells, intervertebral disc, regeneration, low back pain, degeneration, functionalization