Native collagen doughs were processed using a syringe-based extrusion 3D printer to
obtain collagen scaffolds. Before processing, the rheological properties of the doughs were analyzed
to determine the optimal 3D printing conditions. Samples showed a high shear-thinning
behavior, reported beneficial in the 3D printing process. In addition, tetrahydrocurcumin (THC)
was incorporated into the dough formulation and its effect on collagen structure, as well as the
resulting scaffold’s suitability for wound healing applications, were assessed. The denaturation peak
observed by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), along with the images of the scaffolds’ surfaces
assessed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), showed that the fibrillar structure of collagen
was maintained. These outcomes were correlated with X-ray diffraction (XRD) results, which showed
an increase of the lateral packaging of collagen chains was observed in the samples with a THC
content up to 4%, while a higher content of THC considerably decreased the structural order of
collagen. Furthermore, physical interactions between collagen and THC molecules were observed
using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Additionally, all samples showed swelling
and a controlled release of THC. These results along with the mucoadhesive properties of collagen
suggested the potential of these THC–collagen scaffolds as sustained THC delivery systems.
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