Centrifugally-spun polyhydroxybutyrate fibres: Effect of process solvent on structure, morphology and cell response

L. J R Foster, S. M. Davies, B. J. Tighe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The structure and morphology of a novel form of poly(β-hydroxybutyrate) produced by gel-spinning is described. The entangled fibrous nature of the material, which resembles 'cotton wool' suggests possible functions in wound scaffolding devices. The surface structure and fibre diameter distribution of the fibres have been investigated using phase contrast and scanning electron microscopy. Fibres were found to possess a variety of surface irregularities, such as pores and indentations, with diameters mainly in the range 1-15 μm. Additionally, individual fibres were occasionally found to be fused or forked together with neighbours. The effects of blending with various polysaccharides and of altering the process solvent on fibre morphology were also investigated. Under hydrolytic degradation conditions (pH 10.6, 70°C) the fibres degraded by gradual fragmentation and erosion to fibre fragments, particulate matter and eventually to monomer. Altering the production process influenced both the fibre diameter distributions and surface morphology of the constituent fibres. Mammalian and human epithelial cells were used to study the cellular interaction with the spun fibres. SEM studies show that there is little or no cell adhesion to the unmodified fibres, but surface treatment by means of acid and alkali washes promoted cell proliferation on the materials, probably as a result of the introduction of hydroxyl and carboxyl at the surface. Fabrication of non-woven mats, which were subsequently acid or alkali treated, provided a conventional way of forming a cell-adhesive matrix which may have potential value as a wound scaffold. Neither cell line exhibited any cytotoxic response to these polymers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-336
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Biomaterials Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2001


  • Cell adhesion
  • Centrifugally-spun fibres
  • Hydrolytic degradation
  • Poly(β-hydroxybutyrate)


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