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author:("Lu, lichen")
1.  Biomechanical Evaluation of an Injectable and Biodegradable Copolymer P(PF-co-CL) in a Cadaveric Vertebral Body Defect Model 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2014;20(5-6):1096-1102.
A novel biodegradable copolymer, poly(propylene fumarate-co-caprolactone) [P(PF-co-CL)], has been developed in our laboratory as an injectable scaffold for bone defect repair. In the current study, we evaluated the ability of P(PF-co-CL) to reconstitute the load-bearing capacity of vertebral bodies with lytic lesions. Forty vertebral bodies from four fresh-frozen cadaveric thoracolumbar spines were used for this study. They were randomly divided into four groups: intact vertebral body (intact control), simulated defect without treatment (negative control), defect treated with P(PF-co-CL) (copolymer group), and defect treated with poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA group). Simulated metastatic lytic defects were made by removing a central core of the trabecular bone in each vertebral body with an approximate volume of 25% through an access hole in the side of the vertebrae. Defects were then filled by injecting either P(PF-co-CL) or PMMA in situ crosslinkable formulations. After the spines were imaged with quantitative computerized tomography, single vertebral body segments were harvested for mechanical testing. Specimens were compressed until failure or to 25% reduction in body height and ultimate strength and elastic modulus of each specimen were then calculated from the force–displacement data. The average failure strength of the copolymer group was 1.83 times stronger than the untreated negative group and it closely matched the intact vertebral bodies (intact control). The PMMA-treated vertebrae, however, had a failure strength 1.64 times larger compared with the intact control. The elastic modulus followed the same trend. This modulus mismatch between PMMA-treated vertebrae and the host vertebrae could potentially induce a fracture cascade and degenerative changes in adjacent intervertebral discs. In contrast, P(PF-co-CL) restored the mechanical properties of the treated segments similar to the normal, intact, vertebrae. Therefore, P(PF-co-CL) may be a suitable alternative to PMMA for vertebroplasty treatment of vertebral bodies with lytic defects.
PMCID: PMC3938939  PMID: 24256208
2.  Non-invasive monitoring of BMP-2 retention and bone formation in composites for bone tissue engineering using SPECT/CT and scintillation probes 
Non-invasive imaging can provide essential information for the optimization of new drug delivery-based bone regeneration strategies to repair damaged or impaired bone tissue. This study investigates the applicability of nuclear medicine and radiological techniques to monitor growth factor retention profiles and subsequent effects on bone formation. Recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2, 6.5 μg/scaffold) was incorporated into a sustained release vehicle consisting of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) microspheres embedded in a poly(propylene fumarate) scaffold surrounded by a gelatin hydrogel and implanted subcutaneously and in 5-mm segmental femoral defects in 9 rats for a period of 56 days. To determine the pharmacokinetic profile, BMP-2 was radiolabeled with 125I and the local retention of 125I-BMP-2 was measured by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), scintillation probes and ex vivo scintillation analysis. Bone formation was monitored by micro-computed tomography (μCT). The scaffolds released BMP-2 in a sustained fashion over the 56-day implantation period. A good correlation between the SPECT and scintillation probe measurements was found and there were no significant differences between the non-invasive and ex-vivo counting method after 8 weeks of follow up. SPECT analysis of the total body and thyroid counts showed a limited accumulation of 125I within the body. Ectopic bone formation was induced in the scaffolds and the femur defects healed completely. In vivo μCT imaging detected the first signs of bone formation at days 14 and 28 for the orthotopic and ectopic implants, respectively, and provided a detailed profile of the bone formation rate. Overall, this study clearly demonstrates the benefit of applying non-invasive techniques in drug delivery-based bone regeneration strategies by providing detailed and reliable profiles of the growth factor retention and bone formation at different implantation sites in a limited number of animals.
PMCID: PMC3974410  PMID: 19105972
Drug delivery; Controlled release; Bone morphogenetic protein-2; Single photon emission computed; tomography; Scintillation probes; Micro-computed tomography
3.  Controlled release of doxorubicin from pH-responsive microgels 
Acta biomaterialia  2012;9(3):5438-5446.
Stimuli-responsive hydrogels have enormous potential in drug delivery applications. They can be used for site-specific drug delivery due to environmental variables in the body such as pH and temperature. In this study, we have developed pH-responsive microgels for the delivery of doxorubicin (DOX) in order to optimize its anti-tumor activity while minimizing its systemic toxicity. We used a copolymer of oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) and sodium methacrylate (SMA) to fabricate the pH-responsive microgels. We demonstrated that the microgels were negatively charged, and the amounts of charge on the microgels were correlated with the SMA concentration in their formulation. The resulting microgels exhibited sensitivity to the pH and ionic strength of the surrounding environment. We demonstrated that DOX was efficiently loaded into the microgels and released in a controlled fashion via an ion-exchange mechanism. Our data revealed that the DOX release was influenced by the pH and ionic strength of the solution. Moreover, we designed a phenomenological mathematical model, based on a stretched exponential function, to quantitatively analyze the cumulative release of DOX. We found a linear correlation between the maximum release of DOX calculated from the model and the SMA concentration in the microgel formulation. The anti-tumor activity of the released DOX was assessed using a human chordoma cell line. Our data revealed that OPF–SMA microgels prolonged the cell killing effect of DOX.
PMCID: PMC3970914  PMID: 23022545
pH-responsive; Doxorubicin; Microgels; Chordoma; Oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate
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
6.  Material properties and electrical stimulation regimens through polycaprolactone fumarate-polypyrrole scaffolds as potential conductive nerve conduits 
Acta biomaterialia  2010;7(3):944-953.
Mechanical and electrical properties of polycaprolactone fumarate-polypyrrole (PCLF-PPy) scaffolds were studied under physiological conditions to evaluate their ability to maintain material properties necessary for application as conductive nerve conduits. PC12 cells cultured on PCLF-PPy scaffolds were stimulated with regimens of 10 μA of constant or 20 Hz frequency current passed through the scaffolds for 1 h/day. PC12 cellular morphologies were analyzed by fluorescence microscopy after 48 h. PCLF-PPy scaffolds exhibited excellent mechanical properties at 37°C which would allow suturing and flexibility. The surface resistivity of the scaffolds was 2kΩ and the scaffolds were electrically stable during application of electrical stimulation (ES). In vitro studies showed significant increases in percentage of neurite bearing cells, number of neurites per cell and neurite length in the presence of ES compared to no ES. Additionally, extending neurites were observed to align in the direction of the applied current. This study shows that electrically conductive PCLF-PPy scaffolds possess material properties necessary for application as nerve conduits. Additionally, the capability to significantly enhance and direct neurite extension by passing electrical current through PCLF-PPy scaffolds renders them even more promising as future therapeutic treatments for severe nerve injuries.
PMCID: PMC3031729  PMID: 20965280
Electrical Stimulation; Polypyrrole; Nerve; PCLF; PC12 cells
7.  Crosslinking Characteristics and Mechanical Properties of an Injectable Biomaterial Composed of Polypropylene fumarate and Polycaprolactone Copolymer 
In this work, a series of copolymers of polypropylene fumarate-co-polycaprolactone (PPF-co-PCL) were synthesized via a three-step polycondensation reaction of oligomeric polypropylene fumarate (PPF) with polycaprolactone (PCL). The effects of PPF precursor molecular weight, PCL precursor molecular weight, and PCL fraction in the copolymer (PCL feed ratio) on the maximum crosslinking temperature, gelation time, and mechanical properties of the crosslinked copolymers were investigated. The maximum crosslinking temperature fell between 38.2±0.3 and 47.2±0.4 °C, which increased with increasing PCL precursor molecular weight. The gelation time was between 4.2±0.2 and 8.5±0.7 min, and decreased with increasing PCL precursor molecular weight. The compressive moduli ranged from 44±1.8 to 142±7.4 MPa, with enhanced moduli at higher PPF precursor molecular weight and lower PCL feed ratio. The compressive toughness was in the range of 4.1±0.3 and 17.1±1.3 KJ/m3. Our data suggest that the crosslinking and mechanical properties of PPF-co-PCL can be modulated by varying the composition. Therefore the PPF-co-PCL copolymers may offer increased versatility as an injectable, in situ polymerizable biomaterial than the individual polymers of PPF and PCL.
PMCID: PMC3062160  PMID: 20566042
Polypropylene fumarate; polycaprolactone; injectable biomaterials; in situ polymerizable
8.  Enhanced Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2-Induced Ectopic and Orthotopic Bone Formation by Intermittent Parathyroid Hormone (1–34) Administration 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2010;16(12):3769-3777.
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) play a central role in local bone regeneration strategies, whereas the anabolic features of parathyroid hormone (PTH) are particularly appealing for the systemic treatment of generalized bone loss. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether local BMP-2-induced bone regeneration could be enhanced by systemic administration of PTH (1–34). Empty or BMP-2-loaded poly(lactic-co glycolic acid)/poly(propylene fumarate)/gelatin composites were implanted subcutaneously and in femoral defects in rats (n = 9). For the orthotopic site, empty defects were also tested. Each of the conditions was investigated in combination with daily administered subcutaneous PTH (1–34) injections in the neck. After 8 weeks of implantation, bone mineral density (BMD) and bone volume were analyzed using microcomputed tomography and histology. Ectopic bone formation and almost complete healing of the femoral defect were only seen in rats that received BMP-2-loaded composites. Additional treatment of the rats with PTH (1–34) resulted in significantly (p < 0.05) enhanced BMD and bone volume in the BMP-2 composites at both implantation sites. Despite its effect on BMD in the humerus and vertebra, PTH (1–34) treatment had no significant effect on BMD and bone volume in the empty femoral defects and the ectopically or orthotopically implanted empty composites. Histological analysis showed that the newly formed bone had a normal woven and trabecular appearance. Overall, this study suggests that intermittent administration of a low PTH dose alone has limited potential to enhance local bone regeneration in a critical-sized defect in rats. However, when combined with local BMP-2-releasing scaffolds, PTH administration significantly enhanced osteogenesis in both ectopic and orthotopic sites.
PMCID: PMC2991197  PMID: 20666615
9.  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
10.  Effects of composite formulation on the mechanical properties of biodegradable poly(propylene fumarate)/bone fiber scaffolds 
The objective of our study was to determine the effects of composite formulation on the compressive modulus and ultimate strength of a biodegradable, in situ polymerizable poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) and bone fiber scaffold. The following parameters were investigated: the incorporation of bone fibers (either mineralized or demineralized), PPF molecular weight, N-vinyl pyrrolidinone (NVP) crosslinker amount, benzoyl peroxide (BP) initiator amount, and sodium chloride porogen amount. Eight formulations were chosen based on a resolution III two level fractional factorial design. The compressive modulus and ultimate strength of these formulations were measured on a materials testing machine. Absolute values for compressive modulus varied from 21.3 to 271 MPa and 2.8 to 358 MPa for dry and wet samples, respectively. The ultimate strength of the crosslinked composites varied from 2.1 to 20.3 MPa for dry samples and from 0.4 to 16.6 MPa for wet samples. Main effects of each parameter on the measured property were calculated. The incorporation of mineralized bone fibers and an increase in PPF molecular weight resulted in higher compressive modulus and ultimate strength. Both mechanical properties also increased as the amount of benzoyl peroxide increased or the NVP amount decreased in the formulation. Sodium chloride had a dominating effect on the increase of mechanical properties in dry samples but showed little effects in wet samples. Demineralization of bone fibers led to a decrease in the compressive modulus and ultimate strength. Our results suggest that bone fibers are appropriate as structural enforcement components in PPF scaffolds. The desired orthopaedic PPF scaffold might be obtained by changing a variety of composite formulation parameters.
PMCID: PMC3201805  PMID: 22034584
poly(propylene fumarate); bone fiber; orthopaedic biomaterials; injectable; mechanical properties
11.  In Vivo Biodegradation and Biocompatibility of PEG/Sebacic Acid-Based Hydrogels using a Cage Implant System 
Comprehensive in vivo biodegradability and biocompatibility of unmodified and Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) peptide-modified PEG/Sebacic acid based hydrogels were evaluated and compared to the control material poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) using a cage implantation system, as well as direct subcutaneous implantation for up to 12 weeks. The total weight loss after 12 weeks of implantation for unmodified PEGSDA and RGD-modified PEGSDA in the cage was approximately 42% and 52%, respectively, with no statistical difference (p> 0.05). The exudate analysis showed that PEGSDA hydrogels induced minimal inflammatory response up to 21 days following implantation, similar to the controls (empty cage and the cage containing PLGA discs). Histology analysis from direct subcutaneous implantation of the hydrogels and PLGA scaffold showed statistically similar resolution of the acute and chronic inflammatory responses with development of the fibrous capsule between the PEGSDA hydrogels and the control (PLGA). The cage system, as well as the histology analysis, demonstrated that the degradation products of both hydrogels, with or without RGD peptide modification, are biocompatible without statistically significant differences in the inflammatory responses, as compared to PLGA.
PMCID: PMC2928850  PMID: 20574982
In vivo biocompatibility; In vivo biodegradation; PEG sebacic acid diacrylate; Hydrogel; RGD-modified hydrogel; Cage implantation
12.  Collagen type I hydrogel allows migration, proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of rat bone marrow stromal cells 
Hydrogels are potentially useful for many purposes in regenerative medicine including drug and growth factor delivery, as single scaffold for bone repair or as a filler of pores of another biomaterial in which host mesenchymal progenitor cells can migrate in and differentiate into matrix-producing osteoblasts. Collagen type I is of special interest as it is a very important and abundant natural matrix component. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether rat bone marrow stromal cells (rBMSCs) are able to adhere to, to survive, to proliferate and to migrate in collagen type I hydrogels and whether they can adopt an osteoblastic fate. rBMSCs were obtained from rat femora and plated on collagen type I hydrogels. Prior to harvest by day 7, 14, and 21, hydrogels were fluorescently labeled, cryo-cut and analyzed by fluorescent-based and laser scanning confocal microscopy to determine cell proliferation, migration, and viability. Osteogenic differentiation was determined by alkaline phosphatase activity. Collagen type I hydrogels allowed the attachment of rBMSCs to the hydrogel, their proliferation, and migration towards the inner part of the gel. rBMSCs started to differentiate into osteoblasts as determined by an increase in alkaline phosphatase activity after two weeks in culture. This study therefore suggests that collagen type I hydrogels could be useful for musculoskeletal regenerative therapies.
PMCID: PMC2891839  PMID: 20186733
Collagen type I hydrogel; bone marrow stromal cells; cell migration; osteogenic differentiation; bone regeneration
13.  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
14.  Enhanced Cell Ingrowth and Proliferation through Three-Dimensional Nanocomposite Scaffolds with Controlled Pore Structures 
Biomacromolecules  2010;11(3):682-689.
We present enhanced cell ingrowth and proliferation through crosslinked three-dimensional (3D) nanocomposite scaffolds fabricated using poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) and hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles. Scaffolds with controlled internal pore structures were produced from computer-aided design (CAD) models and solid freeform fabrication (SFF) technique, while those with random pore structures were fabricated by NaCl leaching technique for comparison. The morphology and mechanical properties of scaffolds were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and mechanical testing, respectively. Pore interconnectivity of scaffolds was assessed using X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and 3D imaging analysis. In vitro cell studies have been performed using MC3T3-E1 mouse preosteoblasts and cultured scaffolds in a rotating-wall-vessel bioreactor for 4 and 7 days to assess cell attachment, viability, ingrowth depth, and proliferation. The mechanical properties of crosslinked nanocomposite scaffolds were not significantly different after adding HA or varying pore structures. However, pore interconnectivity of PPF/HA nanocomposite scaffolds with controlled pore structures has been significantly increased, resulting in enhanced cell ingrowth depth 7 days after cell seeding. Cell attachment and proliferation are also higher in PPF/HA nanocomposite scaffolds. These results suggest that crosslinked PPF/HA nanocomposite scaffolds with controlled pore structures may lead to promising bone tissue engineering scaffolds with excellent cell proliferation and ingrowth.
PMCID: PMC2839506  PMID: 20112899
Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF); Hydroxyapatite (HA); Nanocomposite; Solid freeform fabrication (SFF); Pre-osteoblast responses
15.  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
16.  Photo-Crosslinked Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) Networks: Roles of Crystallinity and Crosslinking Density in Determining Mechanical Properties 
Polymer  2008;49(26):5692-5699.
We present a material design strategy of combining crystallinity and crosslinking to control the mechanical properties of polymeric biomaterials. Three polycaprolactone fumarates (PCLF530, PCLF1250, and PCLF2000) synthesized from the precursor polycaprolactone (PCL) diols with nominal molecular weights of 530, 1250, and 2000 g.mol-1, respectively, were employed to fabricate polymer networks via photo-crosslinking process. Five different amounts of photo-crosslinking initiator were applied during fabrication in order to understand the role of photoinitiator in modulating the crosslinking characteristics and physical properties of PCLF networks. Thermal properties such as glass transition temperature (Tg), melting temperature (Tm), and degradation temperature (Td) of photo-crosslinked PCLFs were examined and correlated with their rheological and mechanical properties.
PMCID: PMC2951835  PMID: 20936057
Polycaprolactone fumarate; Photo-crosslinking; Mechanical Properties
17.  Development of Biodegradable and Injectable Macromers Based on Poly(Ethylene Glycol) and Diacid Monomers 
Novel biodegradable injectable poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) based macromers were synthesized by reacting low molecular weight PEG (MW: 200) and dicarboxylic acids such as sebacic acid or terephthalic acid. Chemical structures of the resulting polymers were confirmed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy characterizations. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) showed that these polymers were completely amorphous above room temperature. After photopolymerization, dynamic elastic shear modulus of the crosslinked polymers was up to 1.5 MPa and compressive modulus was up to 2.2 MPa depending on the polymer composition. The in vitro degradation study showed that mass losses of these polymers were gradually decreased over 23 weeks of period in simulated body fluid. By incorporating up to 30 wt% of 2-hydroxyethyl methylmethacrylate (HEMA) into the crosslinking network, the dynamic elastic modulus and compressive modulus was significantly increased up to 7.2 MPa and 3.2 MPa, respectively. HEMA incorporation also accelerated degradation as indicated by significantly higher mass loss of up to 27% after 20 weeks of incubation. Cytocompatability studies using osteoblasts and neural cells revealed that cell metabolic activity on these polymers with or without HEMA was close to the control tissue culture polystyrene. The PEG based macromers developed in this study may be useful as scaffolds or cell carriers for tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC2857720  PMID: 18655146
Polyethylene glycol; dicarboxylic acid; HEMA; tissue engineering; biodegradation
18.  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
19.  Potential of Hydrogels Based on Poly(Ethylene Glycol) and Sebacic Acid as Orthopedic Tissue Engineering Scaffolds 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2009;15(8):2299-2307.
In this study, the bioactive effects of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) sebacic acid diacrylate (PEGSDA) hydrogels with or without RGD peptide modification on osteogenic differentiation and mineralization of marrow stromal cells (MSCs) were examined. In a separate experiment, the ability of PEGSDA hydrogel to serve as a delivery vehicle for bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) was also investigated. As a scaffold, the attachment and proliferation of MSCs on PEGSDA hydrogel scaffolds with and without RGD peptide modification was similar to the control, tissue culture polystyrene. In contrast, cells were barely seen on unmodified PEG diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogel throughout the culture period for up to 21 days. Osteogenic phenotypic expression such as alkaline phosphatase (ALP) of MSCs as well as mineralized calcium content were significantly higher on PEGSDA-based hydrogels than those on the control or PEGDA hydrogels. Potential use of PEGSDA scaffold as a delivery vehicle of osteogenic molecules such as BMP-2 was also evaluated. Initial burst release of BMP-2 from PEGSDA hydrogel scaffold (14.7%) was significantly reduced compared to PEGDA hydrogel scaffold (84.2%) during the first 3 days of a 21-day release period. ALP activity of an osteoblast was significantly higher in the presence of BMP-2 released from PEGSDA hydrogel scaffolds compared to that in the presence of BMP-2 released from PEGDA scaffolds, especially after 6 days of release. Overall, PEGSDA hydrogel scaffolds without further modification may be useful as orthopedic tissue engineering scaffolds as well as local drug carriers for prolonged sustained release of osteoinductive molecules.
PMCID: PMC2792107  PMID: 19292677
20.  Solute Transport in Cyclically Deformed Porous Tissue Scaffolds with Controlled Pore Cross-Sectional Geometries 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2009;15(8):1989-1999.
The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of pore geometry on the transport rate and depth after repetitive mechanical deformation of porous scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. Flexible cubic imaging phantoms with pores in the shape of a circular cylinder, elliptic cylinder, and spheroid were fabricated from a biodegradable polymer blend using a combined 3D printing and injection molding technique. The specimens were immersed in fluid and loaded with a solution of a radiopaque solute. The solute distribution was quantified by recording 20 μm pixel-resolution images in an X-ray microimaging scanner at selected time points after intervals of dynamic straining with a mean strain of 8.6 ± 1.6% at 1.0 Hz. The results show that application of cyclic strain significantly increases the rate and depth of solute transport, as compared to diffusive transport alone, for all pore shapes. In addition, pore shape, pore size, and the orientation of the pore cross-sectional asymmetry with respect to the direction of strain greatly influence solute transport. Thus, pore geometry can be tailored to increase transport rates and depths in cyclically deformed scaffolds, which is of utmost importance when thick, metabolically functional tissues are to be engineered.
PMCID: PMC2792109  PMID: 19196145
21.  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
22.  Photo-crosslinked Hybrid Polymer Networks Consisting of Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) and Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF): Controlled Physical Properties and Regulated Bone and Nerve Cell Responses 
Biomacromolecules  2008;9(4):1229-1241.
Aiming to achieve suitable polymeric biomaterials with controlled physical properties for hard and soft tissue replacements, we have developed a series of blends consisting of two photo-crosslinkable polymers: polypropylene fumarate (PPF) and polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF). Physical properties of both uncrosslinked and UV crosslinked PPF/PCLF blends with PPF composition ranging from 0% to 100% have been investigated extensively. It has been found that the physical properties such as thermal, rheological, and mechanical properties could be modulated efficiently by varying the PPF composition in the blends. Thermal properties including glass transition temperature (Tg) and melting temperature (Tm) have been correlated with their rheological and mechanical properties. Surface characteristics such as surface morphology, hydrophilicity and the capability of adsorbing serum protein from culture medium have also been examined for the crosslinked polymer and blend discs. For potential applications in bone and nerve tissue engineering, in vitro cell studies including cytotoxicity, cell adhesion, and proliferation on crosslinked discs with controlled physical properties have been performed using rat bone marrow stromal cells and SPL201 cells, respectively. In addition, the role of mechanical properties such as surface stiffness in modulating cell responses has been emphasized using this model blend system.
PMCID: PMC2888142  PMID: 18307311
Photo-crosslinking; Polymer blends; Poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF); Poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF); Controlled physical properties; Cell responses
23.  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
24.  Effect of Autologous Bone Marrow Stromal Cell Seeding and Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 Delivery on Ectopic Bone Formation in a Microsphere/Poly(Propylene Fumarate) Composite 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2008;15(3):587-594.
A biodegradable microsphere/scaffold composite based on the synthetic polymer poly(propylene fumarate) (PPF) holds promise as a scaffold for cell growth and sustained delivery vehicle for growth factors for bone regeneration. The objective of the current work was to investigate the in vitro release and in vivo bone forming capacity of this microsphere/scaffold composite containing bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) in combination with autologous bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) in a goat ectopic implantation model. Three composites consisting of 0, 0.08, or 8 μg BMP-2 per mg of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) microspheres, embedded in a porous PPF scaffold, were combined with either plasma (no cells) or culture-expanded BMSCs. PPF scaffolds impregnated with a BMP-2 solution and combined with BMSCs as well as empty PPF scaffolds were also tested. The eight different composites were implanted subcutaneously in the dorsal thoracolumbar area of goats. Incorporation of BMP-2–loaded microspheres in the PPF scaffold resulted in a more sustained in vitro release with a lower burst phase, as compared to BMP-2–impregnated scaffolds. Histological analysis after 9 weeks of implantation showed bone formation in the pores of 11/16 composites containing 8 μg/mg BMP-2–loaded microspheres with no significant difference between composites with or without BMSCs (6/8 and 5/8, respectively). Bone formation was also observed in 1/8 of the BMP-2–impregnated scaffolds. No bone formation was observed in the other conditions. Overall, this study shows the feasibility of bone induction by BMP-2 release from microspheres/scaffold composites.
PMCID: PMC2810278  PMID: 18925831
25.  Non-invasive screening method for simultaneous evaluation of in vivo growth factor release profiles from multiple ectopic bone tissue engineering implants 
The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a screening method based on scintillation probes for the simultaneous evaluation of in vivo growth factor release profiles of multiple implants in the same animal. First, we characterized the scintillation probes in a series of in vitro experiments to optimize the accuracy of the measurement setup. The scintillation probes were found to have a strong geometric dependence and experience saturation effects at high activities. In vitro simulation of 4 subcutaneous limb implants in a rat showed minimal interference of surrounding implants on local measurements at close to parallel positioning of the probes. These characteristics were taken into consideration for the design of the probe setup and in vivo experiment. The measurement setup was then validated in a rat subcutaneous implantation model using 4 different sustained release carriers loaded with 125I-BMP-2 per animal. The implants were removed after 42 or 84 days of implantation, for comparison of the non-invasive method to ex-vivo radioisotope counting. The non-invasive method demonstrated a good correlation with the ex-vivo counting method at both time-points of all 4 carriers. Overall, this study showed that scintillation probes could be successfully used for paired measurement of 4 release profiles with minimal interference of the surrounding implants, and may find use as non-invasive screening tools for various drug delivery applications.
PMCID: PMC2601638  PMID: 18554743
Controlled drug delivery; non-invasive screening; scintillation detector; radiolabelled growth factor; method validation

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