In this study, we have compared the effects of negative and positive fixed charge on chondrocyte behavior in vitro. Electrical charges have been incorporated into oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) using small charged monomers such as sodium methacrylate (SMA) and (2-(methacryloyloxy) ethyl)-trimethyl ammonium chloride (MAETAC) to produce negatively and positively charged hydrogels, respectively. The hydrogel physical and electrical properties were characterized through measuring and calculating the swelling ratio and zeta potential, respectively. Our results revealed that the properties of these OPF modified hydrogels varied according to the concentration of charged monomers. Zeta potential measurements demonstrated that the electrical property of the OPF hydrogel surfaces changed due to incorporation of SMA and MAETAC and that this change in electrical property was dose-dependent. Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy was used to determine the hydrogel surface composition. To assess the effects of surface properties on chondrocyte behavior, primary chondrocytes isolated from rabbit ears were seeded as a monolayer on top of the hydrogels. We demonstrated that the cells remained viable over 7 days and began to proliferate while seeded on top of the hydrogels. Collagen type II staining was positive in all samples; however, the intensity of the stain was higher on negatively charged hydrogels. Similarly, GAG production was significantly higher on negatively charged hydrogels compared to neutral hydrogel. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction showed up-regulation of collagen type II and down-regulation of collagen type I on the negatively charged hydrogels. These findings indicate that charge plays an important role in establishing an appropriate environment for chondrocytes and hence in the engineering of cartilage. Thus, further investigation into charged hydrogels for cartilage tissue engineering is merited.
hydrogel; cartilage tissue engineering; OPF; scaffold
This work investigated the delivery of marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), with or without the growth factor transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), from biodegradable hydrogel composites on the repair of osteochondral defects in a rabbit model. Three formulations of oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) hydrogel composites containing gelatin microparticles (GMPs) and MSCs were implanted in osteochondral defects, including (1) OPF/GMP hydrogel composites; (2) OPF/GMP hydrogel composites encapsulating MSCs; and (3) OPF hydrogel composites containing TGF-β1 loaded GMPs and MSCs. At 12 weeks, the quality of new tissue formed in chondral and subchondral regions of defects was evaluated based on subjective and quantitative histological analysis. OPF hydrogel composites were partially degraded and the defects were filled with newly formed tissue at 12 weeks with no sign of persistent inflammation. With the implantation of scaffolds alone, newly formed chondral tissue had an appearance of hyaline cartilage with zonal organization and intense staining for glycosaminoglycans, while in the subchondral region hypertrophic cartilage with some extent of bone formation was often observed. The addition of MSCs, especially with TGF-β1 loaded GMPs, facilitated subchondral bone formation, as evidenced by more trabecular bone appearance. However, the delivery of MSCs with or without TGF-β1 at the dosage investigated did not improve cartilage morphology. While OPF-based hydrogel composites supported osteochondral tissue generation, further investigations are necessary to elucidate the effects of MSC seeding density and differentiation stage on new tissue formation and regeneration.
cartilage tissue engineering; mesenchymal stem cells; hydrogel composites; osteochondral defects
An injectable, biodegradable hydrogel composite of oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) and gelatin microparticles (MPs) has been investigated as a cell and growth factor carrier for cartilage tissue engineering applications. In this study, hydrogel composites with different swelling ratios were prepared by crosslinking OPF macromers with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) repeating units of varying molecular weights from 1,000 ~ 35,000. Rabbit marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and MPs loaded with transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) were encapsulated in the hydrogel composites in order to examine the effect of the swelling ratio of the hydrogel composites on the chondrogenic differentiation of encapsulated rabbit marrow MSCs both in the presence and absence of TGF-β1. The swelling ratio of the hydrogel composites increased as the PEG molecular weight in the OPF macromers increased. Chondrocyte-specific genes were expressed at higher levels in groups containing TGF-β1-loaded MPs and varied with the swelling ratio of the hydrogel composites. OPF hydrogel composites with PEG repeating units of molecular weight 35,000 and 10,000 with TGF-β1-loaded MPs exhibited a 159 ± 95 and a 89 ± 31 fold increase in type II collagen gene expression at day 28, respectively, while OPF hydrogel composites with PEG repeating units of molecular weight 3,000 and 1,000 with TGF-β1-loaded MPs showed a 27 ± 10 and a 17 ± 7 fold increase in type II collagen gene expression, respectively, as compared to the composites with blank MPs at day 0. The results indicate that chondrogenic differentiation of encapsulated rabbit marrow MSCs within OPF hydrogel composites could be affected by their swelling ratio, thus suggesting the potential of OPF composite hydrogels as part of a novel strategy for controlling the differentiation of stem cells.
injectable hydrogels; crosslinking; marrow mesenchymal stem cells; gelatin microparticles; TGF-β1; chondrogenic differentiation; cartilage tissue engineering
This protocol describes the synthesis of oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) (1–35 kDa)(a polymer useful for tissue engineering applications) by a one-pot reaction of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and fumaryl chloride. The procedure involves three parts: dichloromethane and PEG are first dried; the reaction step follows in which fumaryl chloride and triethylamine are added dropwise to a solution of PEG in dichloromethane; and finally the product solution is filtered to remove byproduct salt, and the OPF product is twice crystallized, washed, and dried under vacuum. The reaction is affected by PEG molecular weight and reactant molar ratio. The OPF product is cross-linked by radical polymerization by either a thermally induced or UV-induced radical initiator, and the physical properties of the OPF oligomer and resulting cross-linked hydrogel are easily tailored by varying PEG molecular weight. OPF hydrogels are injectable, polymerize in situ, and undergo biodegradation by hydrolysis of ester bonds. The expected time required to complete this protocol is 6 d.
oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate); OPF; polymer; tissue engineering; polymer synthesis; radical polymerization; hydrogel; PEG
We investigated the development of an injectable, biodegradable hydrogel composite of oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) with encapsulated rabbit marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and gelatin microparticles (MPs) loaded with transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) for cartilage tissue engineering applications. Rabbit MSCs and TGF-β1-loaded MPs were mixed with OPF, a poly(ethylene glycol)-diacrylate crosslinker and the radical initiators ammonium persulfate and N,N,N’,N’-tetramethylethylenediamine, and then crosslinked at 37°C for 8 min to form hydrogel composites. Three studies were conducted over 14 days in order to examine the effects of: 1) the composite formulation, 2) the MSC seeding density, and 3) the TGF-β1 concentration on the chondrogenic differentiation of encapsulated rabbit MSCs. Bioassay results showed no significant difference in DNA amount between groups, however, groups with MPs had a significant increase in glycosaminoglycan content per DNA starting at day 7 as compared to controls at day 0. Chondrocyte-specific gene expression of type II collagen and aggrecan were only evident in groups containing TGF-β1-loaded MPs and varied with TGF-β1 concentration in a dose dependent manner. Specifically, type II collagen gene expression exhibited a 161 ± 49 fold increase and aggrecan gene expression a 221 ± 151 fold increase after 14 days with the highest dose of TGF-β1 (16 ng/ml). These results indicate that encapsulated rabbit MSCs remained viable over the culture period and differentiated into chondrocyte-like cells, thus suggesting the potential of OPF composite hydrogels as part of a novel strategy for localized delivery of stem cells and bioactive molecules.
Cartilage tissue engineering; marrow mesenchymal stem cells; gelatin microparticles; injectable hydrogels; TGF-β1
This study describes the use of oligo [(polyethylene glycol) fumarate] (OPF) hydrogel scaffolds as vehicles for sustained delivery of dibutyryl cyclic adenosine monophosphate (dbcAMP) to the transected spinal cord. dbcAMP was encapsulated in poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres, which were embedded within the scaffolds architecture. Functionality of the released dbcAMP was assessed using neurite outgrowth assays in PC12 cells and by delivery to the transected spinal cord within OPF seven channel scaffolds, which had been loaded with Schwann cells or mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Our results showed that encapsulation of dbcAMP in microspheres lead to prolonged release and continued functionality in vitro. These microspheres were then successfully incorporated into OPF scaffolds and implanted in the transected thoracic spinal cord. Sustained delivery of dbcAMP inhibited axonal regeneration in the presence of Schwann cells but rescued MSC-induced inhibition of axonal regeneration. dbcAMP was also shown to reduce capillary formation in the presence of MSCs, which was coupled with significant functional improvements. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating PLGA microsphere technology for spinal cord transection studies. It represents a novel sustained delivery mechanism within the transected spinal cord and provides a platform for potential delivery of other therapeutic agents.
The transected rat thoracic (T9/10) spinal cord model is a platform for quantitatively compa0ring biodegradable polymer scaffolds. Schwann cell-loaded scaffolds constructed from poly (lactic co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF), oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) hydrogel or positively charged OPF (OPF+) hydrogel were implanted into the model. We demonstrated that the mechanical properties (3-point bending and stiffness) of OPF and OPF+ hydrogels closely resembled rat spinal cord. After one month, tissues were harvested and analyzed by morphometry of neurofilament-stained sections at rostral, midlevel, and caudal scaffold. All polymers supported axonal growth. Significantly higher numbers of axons were found in PCLF (P < 0.01) and OPF+ (P < 0.05) groups, compared to that of the PLGA group. OPF+ polymers showed more centrally distributed axonal regeneration within the channels while other polymers (PLGA, PCLF and OPF) tended to show more evenly dispersed axons within the channels. The centralized distribution was associated with significantly more axons regenerating (P < 0.05). Volume of scar and cyst rostral and caudal to the implanted scaffold was measured and compared. There were significantly smaller cyst volumes in PLGA compared to PCLF groups. The model provides a quantitative basis for assessing individual and combined tissue engineering strategies.
OPF; PLGA; PCLF; axon regeneration; spinal cord injury; Schwann cell
Oligo (polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) hydrogel has been employed in musculoskeletal tissue engineering for photo-encapsulation of chondrocytes and as a matrix for marrow stromal cells differentiation. In this study, we have studied the application of OPF hydrogel for co-encapsulation of DNA and bone cells and examined whether co-encapsulation can enhance gene transfer by maintaining the DNA within the cellular microenvironment. Our results showed that plasmid DNA encoding green fluorescence protein (GFP), co-encapsulated with bone tumor cells, was capable of transfecting the cells and the transfected tumor cells continuously expressed GFP protein over the time course of study (21 days). Furthermore, we have examined the co-encapsulation of estrogen receptor (ER) encoding plasmid DNA and human fetal osteoblast cells (hFOB) that lack endogenous ER. Our results show that the transfected cells responded to estrogen as alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and estrogen response element (ERE)-directed luciferase enzyme activities increased with estrogen-treatment. Taken together, these studies show that OPF hydrogel could be further explored for targeted gene delivery in bone and other tissues encapsulated within the hydrogels.
Bone tissue engineering; DNA delivery, Hydrogel; Osteoblast, Estrogen receptor
In this study, an injectable, biodegradable hydrogel composite of oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) was investigated as a carrier of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) for the treatment of myocardial infarction (MI). 10K OPF hydrogels were used to encapsulate mESCs. The cell differentiation in vitro over 14 days was determined via immunohistochemical examination. Then, mESCs encapsulated in OPF hydrogels were injected into the left ventricular wall of a rat myocardial infarction model. Detailed histological analysis and echocardiography were used to determine the structural and functional consequences after 4 weeks of transplantation. With ascorbic acid induction, mESCs could differentiate into cardiomyocytes and other cell types in all three lineages in the OPF hydrogel. After transplantation, both the 24h-cell retention and 4-week graft size were significantly greater in the OPF + ESC group than that of the PBS + ESC group (p<0.01). Four weeks after transplantation, OPF hydrogel alone significantly reduced the infarct size and collagen deposition and improved the cardiac function. The heart function and revascularization improved significantly, while the infarct size and fibrotic area decreased significantly in the OPF + ESC group compared with that of the PBS +ESC group, OPF group and PBS group (p<0.01). All treatments had significantly reduced MMP2 and MMP9 protein levels compared to the PBS control group, and the OPF + ESC group decreased most by Western blotting. Transplanted mESCs expressed cardiovascular markers. This study suggest the potential of a method for heart regeneration involving oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) hydrogels for stem cell encapsulation and transplantation.
cardiac tissue engineering; injectable hydrogels; cell encapsulation; embryonic stem cell; myocardial infarction
To inform future efforts in tendon/ligament tissue engineering, our laboratory has developed a well-controlled model system with the ability to alter both external tensile loading parameters and local biochemical cues to better understand marrow stromal cell differentiation in response to both stimuli concurrently. In particular, the synthetic, poly(ethylene glycol)-based hydrogel material oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) has been explored as a cell carrier for this system. This biomaterial can be tailored to present covalently incorporated bioactive moieties and can be loaded in our custom cyclic tensile bioreactor for up to 28 days with no loss of material integrity. Human marrow stromal cells encapsulated in these OPF hydrogels were cultured (21 days) under cyclic tensile strain (10%, 1 Hz, 3 h of strain followed by 3 h without) or at 0% strain. No difference was observed in cell number due to mechanical stimulation or across time (n = 4), with cells remaining viable (n = 4) through 21 days. Cyclic strain significantly upregulated all tendon/ligament fibroblastic genes examined (collagen I, collagen III, and tenascin-C) by day 21 (n ≥ 6), whereas genes for other pathways (osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic) did not increase. After 21 days, the presence of collagen I and tenascin-C was observed via immunostaining (n = 2). This study demonstrates the utility of this hydrogel/bioreactor system as a versatile, yet well-controlled, model environment to study marrow stromal cell differentiation toward the tendon/ligament phenotype under a variety of conditions.
In this work, injectable, biodegradable hydrogel composites of crosslinked oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) and gelatin microparticles (MPs) were utilized to fabricate a bilayered osteochondral construct. Rabbit marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were encapsulated with transforming growth factor-β3 (TGF-β3)-loaded MPs in the chondrogenic layer and cocultured with cells of different periods of osteogenic preculture (0, 3, 6 and 12 days) in the osteogenic layer to investigate the effects of TGF-β3 delivery and coculture on the proliferation and differentiation of cells in both layers. The results showed that, in the chondrogenic layer, TGF-β3 significantly stimulated chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs. Additionally, cells of various osteogenic preculture periods in the osteogenic layer, along with TGF-β3, enhanced gene expression for MSC chondrogenic markers to different extents. In the osteogenic layer, cells maintained their alkaline phosphatase activity during the coculture; however, mineralization was delayed by the presence of TGF-β3. Overall, this study demonstrated the fabrication of bilayered hydrogel composites that mimic the structure and function of osteochondral tissue, along with the application of these composites as cell and growth factor carriers, while illustrating that encapsulated cells of different degrees of osteogenic differentiation can significantly influence the chondrogenic differentiation of cocultured progenitor cells in both the presence and absence of chondrogenic growth factors.
bilayered hydrogel composites; mesenchymal stem cell; cell differentiation; coculture
This study deals with the preparation and investigation of a nanoscale delivery system for the anticancer drug doxorubicin (DOX) using its complexation with polyanionic carbohydrate dextran sulfate (DS). Dynamic light scattering, SEM, and zeta potential determination were used to characterize nanocomplexes. DOX-DS complexation was studied in the presence of ethanol as a hydrogen-bond disrupting agent, NaCl as an electrostatic shielding agent, and chitosan as a positively charged polymer. Thermodynamics of DOX-DS interaction was studied using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). A dialysis method was applied to investigate the release profile of DOX from DOX-DS nanocomplexes. Spherical and smooth-surfaced DOX-DS nanocomplexes (250–500 nm) with negative zeta potential were formed at a DS/DOX (w/w) ratio of 0.4–0.6, with over 90% drug encapsulation efficiency. DOX when complexed with DS showed lower fluorescence emission and 480 nm absorbance plus a 15 nm bathometric shift in its visible absorbance spectrum. Electrostatic hydrogen bonding and π-π stacking interactions are the main contributing interactions in DOX-DS complexation. Thermal analysis of DOX-DS complexation by ITC revealed that each DOX molecule binds with 3 DS glycosyl monomers. Drug release profile of nanocomplexes showed a fast DOX release followed by a slow sustained release, leading to release of 32% of entrapped DOX within 15 days. DOX-DS nanocomplexes may serve as a drug delivery system with efficient drug encapsulation and also may be taken into consideration in designing DOX controlled-release systems.
chitosan; dextran; doxorubicin; nanocomplex; anticancer; drug delivery
This study describes investigation of porous photocrosslinked oligo[(polyethylene glycol) fumarate] (OPF) hydrogels as potential matrix for osteoblastic differentiation of marrow stromal cells (MSCs). The porosity and interconnectivity of porous hydrogels were assessed using magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM) as a noninvasive investigative tool that could image the water construct inside the hydrogels at a high spatial resolution. MSCs were cultured onto the porous hydrogels and cell number was assessed using PicoGreen DNA assay. Our results showed 10% of cells initially attached to the surface of scaffolds. However, cells did not show significant proliferation over a time period of 14 days. MSCs cultured on porous hydrogels had increased alkaline phosphatase activity as well as deposition of calcium, suggesting successful differentiation and maturation to the osteoblastic phenotype. Moreover, continued expression of type I collagen and osteonectin over 14 days confirmed osteoblastic differentiation of MSCs. MRM was also applied to monitor osteogenesis of MSCs on porous hydrogels. MRM images showed porous scaffolds became consolidated with osteogenic progression of cell differentiation. These findings indicate that porous OPF scaffolds enhanced MSC differentiation leading to development of bone-like mineralized tissue.
Hydrogel; oligo[(polyethylene glycol) fumarate] (OPF); Marrow stromal cells; Magnetic resonance microscopy; Osteogenesis
Injectable, biodegradable hydrogel composites of crosslinked oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) and gelatin microparticles (MPs) were utilized to fabricate a bilayered osteochondral construct consisting of a chondrogenic layer and an osteogenic layer, and to investigate the differentiation of rabbit marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) encapsulated in both layers in vitro. The results showed that MSCs in the chondrogenic layer were able to undergo chondrogenic differentiation, especially in the presence of TGF-β1-loaded MPs. In the osteogenic layer, cells maintained their osteoblastic phenotype. Although calcium deposition in the osteogenic layer was limited, cells in the osteogenic layer significantly enhanced chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs in the chondrogenic layer. The greatest effect was observed when MSCs were encapsulated with TGF-β1-loaded MPs and cultured with osteogenic cells in the bilayered constructs. Overall, this study demonstrates the fabrication of bilayered hydrogel composites that mimic the structure and function of osteochondral tissue, along with the application of these composites as cell and growth factor carriers.
mesenchymal stem cell; cartilage tissue engineering; hydrogel; cell encapsulation; drug delivery; growth factors; composite; biomimetic material
Novel functional polymeric nanocarriers with ionic cores containing biodegradable cross-links were developed for delivery of chemotherapeutic agents. Block ionomer complexes (BIC) of poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(methacylic acid) (PEO-b-PMA) and divalent metal cations (Ca2+) were utilized as templates. Disulfide bonds were introduced into the ionic cores by using cystamine as a biodegradable cross-linker. The resulting cross-linked micelles with disulfide bonds represented soft, hydrogel-like nanospheres and demonstrated a time-dependent degradation in the conditions mimicking the intracellular reducing environment. The ionic character of the cores allowed to achieve a very high level of doxorubicin (DOX) loading (50% w/w) into the cross-linked micelles. DOX-loaded degradable cross-linked micelles exhibited more potent cytotoxicity against human A2780 ovarian carcinoma cells as compared to micellar formulations without disulfide linkages. These novel biodegradable cross-linked micelles are expected to be attractive candidates for delivery of anticancer drugs.
Block copolymeric micelles; disulfide bonds; doxorubicin; self-assembly; core-shell morphology
Autologous nerve grafts are currently the best option for the treatment of segmental peripheral nerve defects. However, autografts have several drawbacks including size mismatch and loss of sensation in the donor nerve’s sensory distribution. In this work, we have investigated the development of a synthetic hydrogel that contains positive charge for use as a substrate for nerve cell attachment and neurite outgrowth in culture. We have demonstrated that modification of oligo-(polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) with a positively charged monomer improves primary sensory rat neuron attachment and differentiation in a dose-dependent manner. Positively charged hydrogels also supported attachment of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) explants that contain sensory neurons, Schwann cells and neuronal support cells. Furthermore, charged hydrogels were analyzed for the appearance of myelinated structures in a co-culture containing DRG neurons and Schwann cells. DRGs and Schwann cells remained viable on charged hydrogels for a time period of three weeks and neurites extended from the DRGs. Sudan black staining revealed that neurites emerging from DRGs were accompanied by migrating Schwann cells. These findings suggest that charged OPF hydrogels are capable of sustaining both primary nerve cells and the neural support cells that are critical for regeneration.
hydrogel; nerve regeneration; Schwann cells; scaffold
This study investigated the encapsulation of newt iris pigment epithelial cells (PECs), which have the ability to regenerate a lens by trans-differentiation in vivo, within a biodegradable hydrogel of oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) crosslinked with poly(ethylene glycol)-diacrylate. Hydrogel beads of initial diameter of 1 mm were fabricated by a molding technique. The swelling ratio and degradation rate of the hydrogel beads decreased with increasing crosslinking ratios. Confocal microscopy confirmed the cytocompatibility of crosslinking hydrogel formulations as evidenced by the viability of an encapsulated model cell line within a crosslinked hydrogel bead. Hydrogel beads encapsulating iris PECs were also implanted into lentectomized newts in vivo; histological evaluation of explants after 30 days revealed a regenerated lens, thus demonstrating that the presence of degrading hydrogel did not adversely affect lens regeneration. The results of this study suggest the potential of a method for lens regeneration involving oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) hydrogels for iris PEC encapsulation and transplantation.
Conventional chemotherapy agent such as doxorubicin (DOX) is of limited clinical use because of its inherently low selectivity, which can lead to systemic toxicity in normal healthy tissue.
A pH stimuli-sensitive conjugate based on polyethylene glycol (PEG) with covalently attachment doxorubicin via hydrazone bond (PEG-hyd-DOX) was prepared for tumor targeting delivery system. While PEG-DOX conjugates via amid bond (PEG-ami-DOX) was synthesized as control.
The synthetic conjugates were confirmed by proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, the release profile of DOX from PEG-hyd-DOX was acid-liable for the hydrazone linkage between DOX and PEG, led to different intracellular uptake route; intracellular accumulation of PEG-hyd-DOX was higher than PEG-ami-DOX due to its pH-triggered profile, and thereby more cytotoxicity against MCF-7, MDA-MB-231 (breast cancer models) and HepG2 (hepatocellular carcinoma model) cell lines. Following the in vitro results, we xenografted MDA-MB-231 cell onto SCID mice, PEG-hyd-DOX showed stronger antitumor efficacy than free DOX and was tumor-targeting.
Results from these in vivo experiments were consistent with our in vitro results; suggested this pH-triggered PEG-hyd-DOX conjugate could target DOX to tumor tissues and release free drugs by acidic tumor environment, which would be potent in antitumor drug delivery.
We have previously reported a novel polymeric delivery vehicle that is assembled via interaction between heparin and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Here, the cell-responsiveness of this hydrogel — including the delivery of VEGF in response to VEGFR-2 overexpressing PAE/KDR cells (porcine aortic endothelial cells (PAE) equipped with the transcript for the kinase insert domain receptor (KDR)), consequent erosion of the hydrogel matrix, and cellular response — are highlighted. The release of VEGF and hydrogel erosion reached 100% only in the presence of PAE/KDR. The [PEG-LMWH/VEGF] hydrogel (PEG = poly(ethylene glycol), LMWH = low molecular weight heparin) correspondingly prompted increases in VEGFR-2 phosphorylation and proliferation of PAE/KDR cells. This study proves that growth factor-crosslinked hydrogels can liberate VEGF in response to specific receptors, causing gel erosion and desired cell responses. The promise of these approaches in therapeutic applications, including targeted delivery, is suggested.
dendrimers; heparin; hydrogel; responsive hydrogels; targeted delivery; VEGF; VEGFR-2
Polymer micelles with cross-linked ionic cores were prepared by using block ionomer complexes of poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(methacrylic acid) (PEO-b-PMA) copolymer and divalent metal cations as templates. Doxorubicin (DOX), an anthracycline anticancer drug, was successfully incorporated into the ionic cores of such micelles via electrostatic interactions. A substantial drug loading level (up to 50 w/w %) was achieved and it was strongly dependent on the structure of the cross-linked micelles and pH. The drug-loaded micelles were stable in aqueous dispersions exhibiting no aggregation or precipitation for a prolonged period of time. The DOX-loaded polymer micelles exhibited noticeable pH-sensitive behavior with accelerated release of DOX in acidic environment due to the protonation of carboxylic groups in the cores of the micelles. The attempt to protect the DOX-loaded core with the polycationic substances resulted in the decrease of loading efficacy and had a slight effect on the release characteristics of the micelles. The DOX-loaded polymer micelles exhibited a potent cytotoxicity against human A2780 ovarian carcinoma cells. These results point to a potential of novel polymer micelles with cross-linked ionic cores to be attractive carriers for the delivery of DOX.
Block copolymer micelles; doxorubicin; self-assembly; core-shell morphology
A potential anticancer drug delivery polymeric micelle system with an in vitro degradation half-life of about 48 hours that releases its drug upon application of ultrasound was synthesized. This vehicle was composed of an amphiphilic copolymer poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate-lactaten). The degree of polymerization of lactate side group, n, was 0, 3 or 5. The molar ratio of NIPAAm to HEMA-lactaten to PEO in polymerization was optimized to produce an in vitro polymeric micelle half-life of about 48 hour at 40°C. 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) was used as a fluorescent probe to study the hydrophobicity of the cores of the polymeric micelles. The results showed that the cores of the polymeric micelles were hydrophobic enough to sequester DPH and the anti-cancer drug Doxorubicin (Dox). Dox was encapsulated into the polymeric micelles having molar feed ratio of NIPAAm to HEMA-lactate3 to PEO equal to 20 : 5 : 1; this drug was released upon the application of low-frequency ultrasound. The Dox release was about 2 % at room temperature and 4 % at body temperature, and the drug returned to the polymeric micelles when insonation ceased.
poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate-lactaten); micelle; drug delivery; drug release; doxorubicin; ultrasound
Effective oral delivery of proteins is impeded by steep pH gradients and proteolytic enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as low absorption of the proteins into the bloodstream due to their size, charge or solubility. In the present work, pH-responsive complexation hydrogels of poly(itaconic acid) with poly(ethylene glycol) grafts were synthesized for applications in oral drug delivery. These hydrogels were expected to be in collapsed configuration at low pH due to hydrogen bonding between poly(itaconic acid) carboxyl groups and poly(ethylene glycol), and to swell with increasing pH because of charge repulsion between deprotonated carboxylic acid groups. Hydrogels were prepared by UV-initiated free radical polymerization using tetraethylene glycol as the crosslinking agent and Irgacure® 2959 as the initiator. The effect of monomer ratios, crosslinking ratio and solvent amount on the properties of the hydrogels were investigated. The composition of the hydrogels was confirmed by FTIR. Equilibrium swelling studies in the pH range of 1.2 to 7 revealed that the extent of swelling increased with increasing pH up to a pH of about 6, when no further carboxylic acid deprotonation occurred. Studies in Caco-2 colorectal carcinoma cells confirmed the cytocompatibility of these materials at concentrations of up to 5 mg/ml.
hydrogels; itaconic acid; poly(ethylene glycol); Caco-2 cells; biocompatibility
Poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogel scaffolds were engineered to promote contractile smooth muscle cell (SMC) phenotype via controlled release of heparin. The scaffold design was evaluated by quantifying the effects of free heparin on SMC phenotype, engineering hydrogels to provide controlled release of heparin, and synthesizing cell-adhesive, heparin releasing hydrogels to promote contractile SMC phenotype. Heparin inhibited SMC proliferation and up-regulated expression of contractile SMC phenotype markers, including smooth muscle alpha actin, calponin, and SM-22 alpha, in a dose-dependent fashion (6 ug/ml-3.2 mg/ml). Heparin release from PEGDA hydrogels was controlled by altering PEGDA molecular weight (MW 1000-6000) and concentration at polymerization (10-30% w/w), yielding release profiles ranging from hours to weeks in duration. Heparin released from PEGDA gels, formulated for optimized heparin loading and release kinetics (30% w/w PEGDA, MW 3000), stimulated SMCs to up-regulate contractile marker mRNA. A cell-instructive scaffold construct was prepared by polymerizing a thin hydrogel film, with pendent RGD peptides for cell attachment, over the optimized hydrogel depots. SMCs seeded on these constructs had elevated levels of contractile marker mRNA after 3 d of culture compared with SMCs on control constructs. These results indicate that RGD-modified, heparin releasing PEGDA gels can act as cell-instructive scaffolds that promote contractile SMC phenotype.
The effective and sustained delivery of DNA and siRNAs locally would increase the applicability of gene therapy in tissue regeneration and cancer therapy. One promising approach is to use hydrogel scaffolds to encapsulate and deliver nucleotides in the form of nanoparticles to the disease sites. However, this approach is currently limited by the inability to load concentrated and active gene delivery nanoparticles into the hydrogels due to the severe nanoparticle aggregation during the loading process. Here, we present a process to load concentrated and un-aggregated non-viral gene delivery nanoparticles, using DNA/polyethylene imine (PEI) polyplexes as an example, into neutral polyethylene glycol (PEG), negatively charged hyaluronic acid (HA) and protein fibrin hydrogels crosslinked through various chemistries. The encapsulated polyplexes are highly active both in vitro and in vivo. We believe this process will significantly advance the applications of hydrogel scaffold mediated non-viral gene delivery in tissue regeneration and cancer therapy.
Hydrogel materials are promising vehicles for the delivery of protein therapeutics. Proteins can impart physical interactions, both steric and electrostatic in nature, that influence their release from a given gel network. Here, model proteins of varying hydrodynamic diameter and charge are directly encapsulated and their release studied from electropositive fibrillar hydrogels prepared from the self assembling peptide, MAX8. Hydrogelation of MAX8 can be triggered in the presence of proteins for their direct encapsulation with no effect on protein structure nor the hydrogel's mechanical properties. Bulk release of the encapsulated proteins from the hydrogels was assessed for a month time period at 37°C before and after syringe delivery of the loaded gels to determine the influence of protein structure on release. Release of positively charged and neutral proteins was largely governed by the sterics imposed by the network. Conversely, negatively charged proteins interacted strongly with the positively charged fibrillar network, greatly restricting their release to <10% of the initial protein load. Partition and retention studies indicated that electrostatic interactions dictate the amount of protein available for release. Importantly, when protein encapsulated gels were delivered via syringe, the release profiles of the macromolecules showed similar trends as those observed for non-sheared gels. This study demonstrates that proteins can be directly encapsulated in self assembled MAX8 hydrogels, which can then be syringe delivered to a site where subsequent release is controlled by protein structure.
peptide; hydrogel; delivery; protein; syringe