Chitin is the second most abundant biopolymer next to cellulose and possesses many favorable properties such as non-toxicity, high crystallinity, biocompatibility and biodegradability. Acid-treatment of chitin can dissolve regions of low lateral order, resulting in elongated rod-like nanocrystals, termed “whiskers”. Chitin whiskers (CWs) are an emerging and novel nanofiller that have been shown to bring about reinforcing effects on both synthetic and natural polymeric structures. The biocompatibility and biodegradability also make it one of the most promising fillers.1 However; it was thought that CWs can only well disperse in aqueous solution, and poorly disperse in organic solvents, which to some extent restricts the development of CW-based nanocomposites. In a previous study, we found that the CW can be well dispersed in 1,1,1-trifluoroethanol (TFE) solvent which is a good solvent for commonly used biodegradable polymers such as polycaprolactone (PCL), polylactide (PLA) and polydioxanone (PDO). Thus, it is possible to blend CWs with these biopolymers to prepare nanocomposite scaffolds. Electrospinning is a rather simple and promising technique to fabricate scaffolds, since the resulting microstructures are similar to the extracellular matrix (ECM) with potential facilitate the design of surgical implants and promote tissue regeneration. Thus, the focus of this work was to develop CW-reinforced nanocomposite fiber scaffolds via electrospinning and investigate their mechanical and biological properties, expecting them to be potential candidates for bone tissue engineering applications.

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