Kefiran is a water-soluble heteropolysaccharide produced by the natural microbiota of kefir grains which are used to produce kefir, a centuries-old probiotic fermented milk beverage known for its nutritional and health-promoting properties. A variety of polysaccharide-based scaffolds have been explored for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications due to their biocompatibility and biodegradability. When compared with other polysaccharides, kefiran has several additional advantages that include antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulatory activity, among others. The many attractive characteristics of kefiran, together with its recognised safe status, has led to extensive research on different areas of application, mostly in food industry. However, recent research has also shown interesting physicochemical and biological properties for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Kefiran has shown great potential for viscosupplementation in osteoarthritis treatment and proper kefiran-based scaffolds have been developed by freeze gelation, showing stability, elastic behaviour and high porosity, with the ability of controlled drug release and biocompatibility. Hence, kefiran represents a promising and appealing biomaterial for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.
S. Correia is supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) though the R&D Project KOAT - Kefiran exopolysaccharide: Promising biopolymer for use in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, with reference PTDC/BTMMAT/29760/2017 (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029760), financed by FCT and co-financed by European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) and Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI). H. Radhouani is supported by the FCT (CEECIND/00111/2017) and J. M. Oliveira would like to thank the FCT for funding provided under the program Investigador FCT 2015 (IF/01285/2015).