The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a hydrogel vehicle for sustained release of growth factors for wound healing applications. Hydrogels were fabricated using ultraviolet photo-crosslinking of acrylamide-functionalized nondegradable poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA). Protein permeability was initially assessed using trypsin inhibitor (TI), a 21 000 MW model protein drug. TI permeability was altered by changing the solids content of the gel and by adding hydrophilic PVA fillers. As the PVA content increased from 10% to 20%, protein flux decreased, with no TI permeating through 20% PVA hydrogels. Further increase in model drug release was achieved by incorporating hydrophilic PVA fillers into the hydrogel. As filler molecular weight increased, TI flux increased. The mechanism for this is most likely an alteration in protein/gel interactions and transient variations in water content. The percent protein released was also altered by varying protein loading concentration. Release studies conducted using growth factor in vehicles with hydrophilic filler showed sustained release of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF-β,β) for up to 3 days compared with less than 24 hours in the controls. In vitro bioactivity was demonstrated by doubling of normal human dermal fibroblas numbers when exposed to growth factor-loaded vehicle compared to control. The release vehicle developed in this study uses a rapid and simple fabrication method, and protein release can be tailored by modifying solid content, incorporating biocompatible hydrophilic fillers, and varying protein loading concentration.
Keywords: photo-crosslinkable hydrogel, poly(vinyl alcohol), platelet-derived growth factor, bioactivity, sustained release