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1.  Sustained Delivery of Dibutyryl Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate to the Transected Spinal Cord Via Oligo [(Polyethylene Glycol) Fumarate] Hydrogels 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2011;17(9-10):1287-1302.
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.
PMCID: PMC3079174  PMID: 21198413
2.  Injectable Biodegradable Hydrogels for Embryonic Stem Cell Transplantation: Improved Cardiac Remodeling and Function of Myocardial Infarction 
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.
PMCID: PMC3227757  PMID: 21838774
cardiac tissue engineering; injectable hydrogels; cell encapsulation; embryonic stem cell; myocardial infarction
3.  Repair of Osteochondral Defects with Biodegradable Hydrogel Composites Encapsulating Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells in a Rabbit Model 
Acta biomaterialia  2009;6(1):39-47.
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.
PMCID: PMC2787824  PMID: 19660580
cartilage tissue engineering; mesenchymal stem cells; hydrogel composites; osteochondral defects
4.  Development of Electrically Conductive Oligo(polyethylene Glycol) Fumarate-Polypyrrole Hydrogels for Nerve Regeneration 
Biomacromolecules  2010;11(11):2845-2853.
Electrically conductive hydrogel composites consisting of oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) and polypyrrole (PPy) were developed for applications in nerve regeneration. OPF-PPy scaffolds were synthesized using three different anions: naphthalene-2-sulfonic acid sodium salt (NSA), dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid sodium salt (DBSA), and dioctyl sulfosuccinate sodium salt (DOSS). Scaffolds were characterized by ATR-FTIR, XPS, AFM, dynamic mechanical analysis, electrical resistivity measurements, and swelling experiments. OPF-PPy scaffolds were shown to consist of up to 25 mol% polypyrrole with a compressive modulus ranging from 265 to 323 kPa and a sheet resistance ranging from 6 to 30 × 103 Ohms/square. In vitro studies using PC12 cells showed OPF-PPy materials had no cytotoxicity and PC12 cells showed distinctly better cell attachment and an increase in the percent of neurite bearing cells on OPF-PPy materials compared to OPF. The neurite lengths of PC12 cells were significantly higher on OPF-PPyNSA and OPF-PPyDBSA. These results show that electrically conductive OPF-PPy hydrogels are promising candidates for future applications in nerve regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3947846  PMID: 20942380
hydrogel; electrical; conductive; nerve; tissue regeneration
5.  Oligo[poly(ethylene glycol)fumarate] Hydrogel Enhances Osteochondral Repair in Porcine Femoral Condyle Defects 
Management of osteochondritis dissecans remains a challenge. Use of oligo[poly(ethylene glycol)fumarate] (OPF) hydrogel scaffold alone has been reported in osteochondral defect repair in small animal models. However, preclinical evaluation of usage of this scaffold alone as a treatment strategy is limited.
We therefore (1) determined in vitro pore size and mechanical stiffness of freeze-dried and rehydrated freeze-dried OPF hydrogels, respectively; (2) assessed in vivo gross defect filling percentage and histologic findings in defects implanted with rehydrated freeze-dried hydrogels for 2 and 4 months in a porcine model; (3) analyzed highly magnified histologic sections for different types of cartilage repair tissues, subchondral bone, and scaffold; and (4) assessed neotissue filling percentage, cartilage phenotype, and Wakitani scores.
We measured pore size of freeze-dried OPF hydrogel scaffolds and mechanical stiffness of fresh and rehydrated forms. Twenty-four osteochondral defects from 12 eight-month-old micropigs were equally divided into scaffold and control (no scaffold) groups. Gross and histologic examination, one-way ANOVA, and one-way Mann-Whitney U test were performed at 2 and 4 months postoperatively.
Pore sizes ranged from 20 to 433 μm in diameter. Rehydrated freeze-dried scaffolds had mechanical stiffness of 1 MPa. The scaffold itself increased percentage of neotissue filling at both 2 and 4 months to 58% and 54%, respectively, with hyaline cartilage making up 39% of neotissue at 4 months.
Rehydrated freeze-dried OPF hydrogel can enhance formation of hyaline-fibrocartilaginous mixed repair tissue of osteochondral defects in a porcine model.
Clinical Relevance
Rehydrated freeze-dried OPF hydrogel alone implanted into cartilage defects is insufficient to generate a homogeneously hyaline cartilage repair tissue, but its spacer effect can be enhanced by other tissue-regenerating mediators.
PMCID: PMC3586016  PMID: 22826014
6.  Photo-Crosslinked Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) Networks for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration: Physical Properties and Preliminary Biological Evaluations 
Acta biomaterialia  2009;5(5):1531-1542.
In an effort of achieving suitable biomaterials for peripheral nerve regeneration, we present a material design strategy of combining a crystallite-based physical network and a crosslink-based chemical network. Biodegradable polymer disks and conduits have been fabricated by photo-crosslinking three poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate)s (PCLF530, PCLF1250, and PCLF2000), which were synthesized from the precursor poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) diols with nominal molecular weights of 530, 1250, and 2000 g.mol−1, respectively. Thermal properties such as glass transition temperature (Tg), melting temperature (Tm), and crystallinity of photo-crosslinked PCLFs were examined and correlated with their rheological and mechanical properties. Furthermore, in vitro degradation of uncrosslinked and crosslinked PCLFs in PBS crosslinked PCLFs in 1 N NaOH aqueous solution at 37 °C was studied. In vitro cytocompatibility, attachment, and proliferation of Schwann cell precursor line SPL201 cells on three PCLF networks were investigated. Crosslinked PCLF2000 with the highest crystallinity and mechanical properties was found to best support cell attachment and proliferation. Using a new photo-crosslinking method, single-lumen crosslinked PCLF nerve conduits without defects were fabricated in a glass mold. Crosslinked PCLF2000 nerve conduits were selected for evaluation in a 1-cm gap rat sciatic nerve model. Histological evaluation demonstrated that the material was biocompatible with sufficient strength to hold sutures in place after 6 and 17 weeks of implantation. Nerve cable with myelinated axons was found in the crosslinked PCLF2000 nerve conduit.
PMCID: PMC2869216  PMID: 19171506
Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate); Photo-crosslinking; Peripheral nerve regeneration; Cell responses
7.  Osteochondral Tissue Regeneration using a Bilayered Composite Hydrogel with Modulating Dual Growth Factor Release Kinetics in a Rabbit Model 
Biodegradable oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) composite hydrogels have been investigated for the delivery of growth factors (GFs) with the aid of gelatin microparticles (GMPs) and stem cell populations for osteochondral tissue regeneration. In this study, a bilayered OPF composite hydrogel that mimics the distinctive hierarchical structure of native osteochondral tissue was utilized to investigate the effect of transforming growth factor-β3 (TGF-β3) with varying release kinetics and/or insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) on osteochondral tissue regeneration in a rabbit full-thickness osteochondral defect model. The four groups investigated included (i) a blank control (no GFs), (ii) GMP-loaded IGF-1 alone, (iii) GMP-loaded IGF-1 and gel-loaded TGF-β3, and (iv) GMP-loaded IGF-1 and GMP-loaded TGF-β3 in OPF composite hydrogels. The results of an in vitro release study demonstrated that TGF-β3 release kinetics could be modulated by the GF incorporation method. At 12 weeks post-implantation, the quality of tissue repair in both chondral and subchondral layers was analyzed based on quantitative histological scoring. All groups incorporating GFs resulted in a significant improvement in cartilage morphology compared to the control. Single delivery of IGF-1 showed higher scores in subchondral bone morphology as well as chondrocyte and glycosaminoglycan amount in adjacent cartilage tissue when compared to a dual delivery of IGF-1 and TGF-β3, independent of the TGF-β3 release kinetics. The results suggest that although the dual delivery of TGF-β3 and IGF-1 may not synergistically enhance the quality of engineered tissue, the delivery of IGF-1 alone from bilayered composite hydrogels positively affects osteochondral tissue repair and holds promise for osteochondral tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC3661728  PMID: 23541928
Hydrogel; osteochondral defect; transforming growth factor-β3; insulin-like growth factor-1
8.  Axon Regeneration through Scaffold into Distal Spinal Cord after Transection 
Journal of neurotrauma  2009;26(10):1759-1771.
We employed Fast Blue (FB) axonal tracing to determine the origin of regenerating axons after thoracic spinal cord transection injury in rats. Schwann cell (SC)-loaded, biodegradable, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) scaffolds were implanted after transection. Scaffolds loaded with solubilized basement membrane preparation (without SCs) were used for negative controls, and nontransected cords were positive controls. One or 2 months after injury and scaffold implantation, FB was injected 0–15 mm caudal or about 5 mm rostral to the scaffold. One week later, tissue was harvested and the scaffold and cord sectioned longitudinally (30 μm) on a cryostat. Trans-scaffold labeling of neuron cell bodies was identified with confocal microscopy in all cell-transplanted groups. Large (30–50 μm diameter) neuron cell bodies were predominantly labeled in the ventral horn region. Most labeled neurons were seen 1–10 mm rostral to the scaffold, although some neurons were also labeled in the cervical cord. Axonal growth occurred bidirectionally after cord transection, and axons regenerated up to 14 mm beyond the PLGA scaffolds and into distal cord. The extent of FB labeling was negatively correlated with distance from the injection site to the scaffold. Electron microscopy showed myelinated axons in the transverse sections of the implanted scaffold 2 months after implantation. The pattern of myelination, with extracellular collagen and basal lamina, was characteristic of SC myelination. Our results show that FB labeling is an effective way to measure the origin of regenerating axons.
PMCID: PMC2763055  PMID: 19413501
axonal tracing; biodegradable polymers; Fast Blue; Schwann cells; spinal cord injury
9.  Axon Regeneration through Scaffold into Distal Spinal Cord after Transection 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2009;26(10):1759-1771.
We employed Fast Blue (FB) axonal tracing to determine the origin of regenerating axons after thoracic spinal cord transection injury in rats. Schwann cell (SC)-loaded, biodegradable, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) scaffolds were implanted after transection. Scaffolds loaded with solubilized basement membrane preparation (without SCs) were used for negative controls, and nontransected cords were positive controls. One or 2 months after injury and scaffold implantation, FB was injected 0–15 mm caudal or about 5 mm rostral to the scaffold. One week later, tissue was harvested and the scaffold and cord sectioned longitudinally (30 μm) on a cryostat. Trans-scaffold labeling of neuron cell bodies was identified with confocal microscopy in all cell-transplanted groups. Large (30–50 μm diameter) neuron cell bodies were predominantly labeled in the ventral horn region. Most labeled neurons were seen 1–10 mm rostral to the scaffold, although some neurons were also labeled in the cervical cord. Axonal growth occurred bidirectionally after cord transection, and axons regenerated up to 14 mm beyond the PLGA scaffolds and into distal cord. The extent of FB labeling was negatively correlated with distance from the injection site to the scaffold. Electron microscopy showed myelinated axons in the transverse sections of the implanted scaffold 2 months after implantation. The pattern of myelination, with extracellular collagen and basal lamina, was characteristic of SC myelination. Our results show that FB labeling is an effective way to measure the origin of regenerating axons.
PMCID: PMC2763055  PMID: 19413501
axonal tracing; biodegradable polymers; Fast Blue; Schwann cells; spinal cord injury
10.  Synthesis of oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) 
Nature protocols  2012;7(6):1219-1227.
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.
PMCID: PMC3513913  PMID: 22653160
oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate); OPF; polymer; tissue engineering; polymer synthesis; radical polymerization; hydrogel; PEG
11.  Effect of Swelling Ratio of Injectable Hydrogel Composites on Chondrogenic Differentiation of Encapsulated Rabbit Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells In Vitro 
Biomacromolecules  2009;10(3):541-546.
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.
PMCID: PMC2765566  PMID: 19173557
injectable hydrogels; crosslinking; marrow mesenchymal stem cells; gelatin microparticles; TGF-β1; chondrogenic differentiation; cartilage tissue engineering
12.  Neural Stem Cell– and Schwann Cell–Loaded Biodegradable Polymer Scaffolds Support Axonal Regeneration in the Transected Spinal Cord 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2009;15(7):1797-1805.
Biodegradable polymer scaffolds provide an excellent approach to quantifying critical factors necessary for restoration of function after a transection spinal cord injury. Neural stem cells (NSCs) and Schwann cells (SCs) support axonal regeneration. This study examines the compatibility of NSCs and SCs with the poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid polymer scaffold and quantitatively assesses their potential to promote regeneration after a spinal cord transection injury in rats. NSCs were cultured as neurospheres and characterized by immunostaining for nestin (NSCs), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) (astrocytes), βIII-tubulin (immature neurons), oligodendrocyte-4 (immature oligodendrocytes), and myelin oligodendrocyte (mature oligodendrocytes), while SCs were characterized by immunostaining for S-100. Rats with transection injuries received scaffold implants containing NSCs (n = 17), SCs (n = 17), and no cells (control) (n = 8). The degree of axonal regeneration was determined by counting neurofilament-stained axons through the scaffold channels 1 month after transplantation. Serial sectioning through the scaffold channels in NSC- and SC-treated groups revealed the presence of nestin, neurofilament, S-100, and βIII tubulin–positive cells. GFAP-positive cells were only seen at the spinal cord–scaffold border. There were significantly more axons in the NSC- and SC- treated groups compared to the control group. In conclusion, biodegradable scaffolds with aligned columns seeded with NSCs or SCs facilitate regeneration across the transected spinal cord. Further, these multichannel biodegradable polymer scaffolds effectively serve as platforms for quantitative analysis of axonal regeneration.
PMCID: PMC2792101  PMID: 19191513
13.  The Roles of Matrix Polymer Crystallinity and Hydroxyapatite Nanoparticles in Modulating Material Properties of Photo-crosslinked Composites and Bone Marrow Stromal Cell Responses 
Biomaterials  2009;30(20):3359-3370.
Two poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate)s (PCLFs) with distinct physical properties have been employed to prepare nanocomposites with hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles via photo-crosslinking. The two PCLFs are PCLF530 and PCLF2000, named after their precursor PCL diol molecular weight of 530 and 2000 g.mol-1, respectively. Crosslinked PCLF530 is amorphous while crosslinked PCLF2000 is semi-crystalline with a melting temperature (Tm) of ∼40 °C and a crystallinity of 40%. Consequently, the rheological and mechanical properties of crosslinked PCLF2000 are significantly greater than those of crosslinked PCLF530. Structural characterizations and physical properties of both series of crosslinked PCLF/HA nanocomposites with HA compositions of 0%, 5%, 10%, 20%, and 30% have been investigated. By adding HA nanoparticles, crosslinked PCLF530/HA nanocomposites demonstrate enhanced rheological and mechanical properties while the enhancement in compressive modulus is less prominent in crosslinked PCLF2000/HA nanocomposites. In vitro cell attachment and proliferation have been performed using rat bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) and correlated with the material properties. Cell attachment and proliferation on crosslinked PCLF530/HA nanocomposite disks have been enhanced strongly with increasing the HA composition. However, surface morphology and surface chemistry such as composition, hydrophilicity, and the capability of adsorbing protein cannot be used to interpret the cell responses on different samples. Instead, the role of surface stiffness in regulating cell responses can be supported by the correlation between the change in compressive modulus and BMSC proliferation on these two series of crosslinked PCLFs and PCLF/HA nanocomposites.
PMCID: PMC2868517  PMID: 19339048
Polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF); Hydroxyapatite (HA); Nanocomposite; Photo-crosslinking; Bone marrow stromal cell responses
14.  Osteoblast Growth and Bone Healing Response to Three Dimensional Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) Scaffolds 
Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) scaffold formulations were assessed as a delivery system of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein (rhBMP-2) for bone tissue engineering. The formulations included PCLF with combinations of poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and hydroxyapatite (HA). The assessments included in vitro and in vivo assays. In vitro assays validated cell attachment using a pre-osteoblast cell line (MC3T3-E1). Additionally, in vitro release profiles of rhBMP-2 from PCLF scaffolds were determined up to 21 days. Data suggested PCLF incorporated with PVA and HA accelerated rhBMP-2 release and the released protein was bioactive. For the in vivo study, a critical sized defect (CSD) model in a rabbit calvaria was used to test PCLF scaffolds. At 6 weeks post-implantation, significantly more bone formation was measured in PCLF scaffolds containing rhBMP-2 than in scaffolds without rhBMP-2. In conclusion, we demonstrated PCLF delivered biologically active rhBMP-2, promoted bone healing in a CSD and has potential as a bone tissue engineering scaffold.
PMCID: PMC3213277  PMID: 21744511
poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate); three-dimensional scaffold; rabbit calvarial critical sized defect; rhBMP-2; bone tissue engineering
15.  The effects of fixed electrical charge on chondrocyte behavior 
Acta biomaterialia  2011;7(5):2080-2090.
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.
PMCID: PMC3103083  PMID: 21262395
hydrogel; cartilage tissue engineering; OPF; scaffold
16.  Preparation and evaluation of poly (caprolactone fumarate) nanoparticles containing doxorubicin HCI 
Background and the purpose of the study
Biodegradable Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) has been used as bioresorbable sutures. In this study, doxorubicin HCl (Dox) loaded PCLF nanoparticles were prepared and characterized.
Material and methods
PCLFs were synthesized by polycondensation of PCL diols (Mws of 530, 1250 and 2000) with fumaryl chloride. The degradation of PCLF in NaOH, water and phosphate buffer saline (PBS), was determined in terms of changes in Mw. Nanoparticles (NPs) were prepared by two methods. In microemulsion polymerization method, dichloromethane containing PCLF and photoinitiator were combined with the water containing surfactants and then the mixture was placed under light for crosslinking. In nanoprecipitation method, the organic solvent containing PCLF was poured into the stirring water. The effect of several variables including concentration of PCLF, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), Dox and Trypan blue (Trb) and the Mw of PCLF and PVA on NP size and loading were evaluated.
PCLF 530, 1250 and 2000 in PBS or water were not degraded over 28 days. Nanoprecipitaion method gave spherical (revealed by SEM images) stable NPs of about 225 with narrow size distribution and a zeta potential of −43 mV. The size of NP increased significantly by increase in Mw or concentration of PCLF. Although PVA was not necessary for formation of NPs, but it decreased with NP size. Dox loading and EE were 2.5–6.8% and 15–20%, respectively. Increasing the drug concentration increased the drug loading (DL) and NP size. The entrapment efficiency (EE) for Trb ranged from 1% for PCLF530 to 6% for PCLF2000. An increase in PCLF concentration resulted in an increase in EE. Dox and Trb release showed a burst followed by 80% and 78% release during 3 and 4 days respectively.
PCLF possessed suitable characteristics for preparation of nanoparticulate drug delivery system such as desired NP size, stability and degradation time. Although PCLF530 NPs were the smallest, but their DL were lower than PCLF1250 and 2000 NPs.
PMCID: PMC3232073  PMID: 22615635
PCLF nanoparticles; Copolymer molecular weight; Nanoprecipitation method
17.  Three-Dimensional Porous Biodegradable Polymeric Scaffolds Fabricated with Biodegradable Hydrogel Porogens 
We have developed a new fabrication technique to create three-dimensional (3D) porous poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) scaffolds using hydrogel microparticle porogens, as an alternative to overcome certain limitations of traditional scaffold fabrication techniques such as a salt leaching method. Both natural hydrogel, gelatin, and synthetic hydrogel, poly(ethylene glycol) sebacic acid diacrylate, were used as porogens to fabricate 3D porous PCLF scaffolds. Hydrogel microparticles were prepared by a single emulsion technique with the particle size in the range of 100–500 μm after equilibrium in water. The pore size distribution, porosity, pore interconnectivity, and spatial pore heterogeneity of the 3D PCLF scaffolds were assessed using micro-computed tomography and imaging analysis. Scaffolds fabricated with the hydrogel porogens had higher porosity and pore interconnectivity as well as more homogeneous spatial pore distribution, compared to the scaffolds made from the salt leaching process. Compressive moduli of the scaffolds were also measured and showed that lower porosity yielded greater modulus of the scaffolds. Overall, the new fabrication technology using hydrogel porogens may be beneficial for certain tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC2819712  PMID: 19216632
18.  A Stimuli-Responsive Hydrogel for Doxorubicin Delivery 
Biomaterials  2010;31(31):8051-8062.
The goal of this study was to develop a polymeric carrier for delivery of anti-tumor drugs and sustained release of these agents in order to optimize anti-tumor activity while minimizing systemic effects. We used oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) hydrogels modified with small negatively charged molecules, sodium methacrylate (SMA), for delivery of doxorubicin (DOX). SMA at different concentrations was incorporated into the OPF hydrogel with a photo-crosslinking method. The resulting hydrogels exhibited sensitivity to the pH and ionic strength of the surrounding environment. Our results revealed that DOX was bound to the negatively charged hydrogel through electrostatic interaction and was released in a timely fashion with an ion exchange mechanism. Release kinetics of DOX was directly correlated to the concentration of SMA in the hydrogel formulations. Anti-tumor activity of the released DOX was assessed using a human osteosarcoma cell line. Our data revealed that DOX released from the modified, charged hydrogels remained biologically active and had the capability to kill cancer cells. In contrast, control groups of unmodified OPF hydrogels with or without DOX did not exhibit any cytotoxicity. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using SMA-modified OPF hydrogels as a potential carrier for chemotherapeutic drugs for cancer treatments.
PMCID: PMC2936247  PMID: 20696470
19.  Relationship between Scaffold Channel Diameter and Number of Regenerating Axons in the Transected Rat Spinal Cord 
Acta biomaterialia  2009;5(7):2551-2559.
Regeneration of endogenous axons through a Schwann cell (SC)-seeded scaffold implant has been demonstrated in the transected rat spinal cord. The formation of a cellular lining in the scaffold channel may limit the degree of axonal regeneration. Spinal cords of adult rats were transected and implanted with the SC-loaded polylactic co-glycollic acid (PLGA) scaffold implants containing seven parallel-aligned channels, either 450-μm (n=19) or 660-μm in diameter (n=14). Animals were sacrificed after 1, 2, and 3 months. Immunohistochemistry for neurofilament-expression was performed. The cross-sectional area of fibrous tissue and regenerative core was calculated. We found that the 450-μm scaffolds had significantly greater axon fibers per channel at the one month (186 ± 37) and three month (78 ± 11) endpoints than the 660-μm scaffolds (90 ± 19 and 40 ± 6, respectively) (P=0.0164 & 0.0149, respectively). The difference in the area of fibrous rim between the 450-μm and 660-μm channels was most pronounced at the one month endpoint, at 28,046 μm2 ± 6,551 and 58,633 μm2 ± 7,063, respectively (P=0.0105). Our study suggests that fabricating scaffolds with smaller diameter channels promotes greater regeneration over larger diameter channels. Axonal regeneration was reduced in the larger channels due to the generation of a large fibrous rim. Optimization of this scaffold environment establishes a platform for future studies of the effects of cell types, trophic factors or pharmacological agents on the regenerative capacity of the injured spinal cord.
PMCID: PMC2731813  PMID: 19409869
Biomedical Engineering; Tissue Development and Growth; Central Nervous System; Polymeric Scaffolds
20.  Stimulation of neurite outgrowth using positively charged hydrogels 
Biomaterials  2009;30(23-24):3874-3881.
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.
PMCID: PMC2716054  PMID: 19427689
hydrogel; nerve regeneration; Schwann cells; scaffold
21.  Cyclic Tensile Culture Promotes Fibroblastic Differentiation of Marrow Stromal Cells Encapsulated in Poly(Ethylene Glycol)-Based Hydrogels 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2010;16(11):3457-3466.
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.
PMCID: PMC2965196  PMID: 20666585
22.  Nanofibrous Patches for Spinal Cord Regeneration 
Advanced functional materials  2010;20(9):1433-1440.
The difficulty in spinal cord regeneration is related to the inhibitory factors for axon growth and the lack of appropriate axon guidance in the lesion region. Here we developed scaffolds with aligned nanofibers for nerve guidance and drug delivery in spinal cord. Blended polymers including Poly (l-lactic acid) (PLLA) and Poly (lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) were used to electrospin nanofibrous scaffolds with two-layer structure: aligned nanofibers in the inner layer and random nanofibers in the outer layer. Rolipram, a small molecule that can enhance cAMP activity in neurons and suppress inflammatory responses, was immobilized onto nanofibers. To test the therapeutic effects of nanofibrous scaffolds, the nanofibrous scaffolds loaded with rolipram were used to bridge the hemisection lesion in 8-week old athymic rats. The scaffolds with rolipram increased axon growth through the scaffolds and in the lesion, promoted angiogenesis through the scaffold, and decreased the population of astrocytes and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in the lesion. Locomotor scale rating analysis showed that the scaffolds with rolipram significantly improved hindlimb function after 3 weeks. This study demonstrated that nanofibrous scaffolds offered a valuable platform for drug delivery for spinal cord regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3558949  PMID: 23378825
Nanofibers; spinal cord; drug delivery; regeneration
23.  Injectable biodegradable hydrogel composites for rabbit marrow mesenchymal stem cell and growth factor delivery for cartilage tissue engineering 
Biomaterials  2007;28(21):3217-3227.
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.
PMCID: PMC2964378  PMID: 17445882
Cartilage tissue engineering; marrow mesenchymal stem cells; gelatin microparticles; injectable hydrogels; TGF-β1
24.  Synthesis, Material Properties and Biocompatibility of a Novel Self-Crosslinkable Poly(caprolactone fumarate) as an Injectable Tissue Engineering Scaffold 
Biomacromolecules  2005;6(5):2503-2511.
A novel self-crosslinkable and biodegradable macromer poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) has been developed for guided bone regeneration. This macromer is a copolymer of fumaryl chloride, which contains double bonds for in-situ crosslinking, and poly(ε-caprolactone) that has a flexible chain to facilitate self-crosslinkability. PCLF was characterized with Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and gel permeation chromatography (GPC). Porous scaffolds were fabricated with sodium chloride particles as the porogen and a chemical initiation system. The PCLF scaffolds were characterized with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). The cytotoxicity and in vivo biocompatibility of PCLF were also assessed. Our results suggest that this novel copolymer, PCLF, is an injectable, self-crosslinkable, and biocompatible macromer that may be potentially used as a scaffold for tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC2530909  PMID: 16153086
25.  The Development of Electrically Conductive Polycaprolactone Fumarate-Polypyrrole Composite Materials for Nerve Regeneration 
Biomaterials  2010;31(23):5916-5926.
Electrically conductive polymer composites composed of polycaprolactone fumarate and polypyrrole (PCLF-PPy) have been developed for nerve regeneration applications. Here we report the synthesis and characterization of PCLF-PPy and in vitro studies showing PCLF-PPy materials support both PC12 cell and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurite extension. PCLF-PPy composite materials were synthesized by polymerizing pyrrole in pre-formed PCLF scaffolds (Mn 7,000 or 18,000 g mol−1) resulting in interpenetrating networks of PCLF-PPy. Chemical compositions and thermal properties were characterized by ATR-FTIR, XPS, DSC, and TGA. PCLF-PPy materials were synthesized with five different anions (naphthalene-2-sulfonic acid sodium salt (NSA), dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid sodium salt (DBSA), dioctyl sulfosuccinate sodium salt (DOSS), potassium iodide (I), and lysine) to investigate effects on electrical conductivity and to optimize chemical composition for cellular compatibility. PCLF-PPy materials have variable electrical conductivity up to 6 mS cm−1 with bulk compositions ranging from 5 to 13.5 percent polypyrrole. AFM and SEM characterization show microstructures with a root mean squared (RMS) roughness of 1195 nm and nanostructures with RMS roughness of 8 nm. In vitro studies using PC12 cells and DRG show PCLF-PPy materials synthesized with NSA or DBSA support cell attachment, proliferation, neurite extension, and are promising materials for future studies involving electrical stimulation.
PMCID: PMC2893281  PMID: 20483452
Electrically Conductive; Polypyrrole; Nerve; PCLF

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