Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent angiogenic stimulator. Controlled release of such stimulators may enhance and guide the vascularization process, and when applied in a nerve conduit may play a role in nerve regeneration. We report the fabrication and in vitro characterization of VEGF encapsulating poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) microspheres and the in vivo application of nerve conduits supplemented with VEGF-containing microspheres. PLGA microspheres containing VEGF were prepared by the double emulsion-solvent evaporation technique. This yielded 83.16% of the microspheres with a diameter < 53 µm. VEGF content measured by ELISA indicated 93.79 ±10.64% encapsulation efficiency. Release kinetics were characterized by an initial burst release of 67.6±8.25% within the first 24 hours, followed by consistent release of approximately 0.34% per day for 4 weeks. Bioactivity of the released VEGF was tested by human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) proliferation assay. VEGF released at all time points enhanced HUVEC proliferation confirming that VEGF retained its bioactivity through the 4-week time period. When the microsphere delivery system was placed in a biosynthetic nerve scaffold, robust nerve regeneration was observed. This study established a novel system for controlled release of growth factors and enables in vivo studies of nerve conduits conditioned with this system.
microsphere; poly-lactic co-glycolic acid; vascular endothelial growth factor; bioactivity; biodegradation; nerve guide
In this work, we have investigated the development of a synthetic hydrogel that contains a negatively charged phosphate group for use as a substrate for bone cell attachment and differentiation in culture. The photoreactive, phosphate-containing molecule, bis(2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl)phosphate (BP), was incorporated into oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate hydrogel and the mechanical, rheological and thermal properties of the resulting hydrogels were characterized. Our results showed changes in hydrogel compression and storage moduli with incorporation of BP. The modification also resulted in decreased crystallinity as recorded by differential scanning calorimetry. Our data revealed that incorporation of BP improved attachment and differentiation of human fetal osteoblast (hFOB) cells in a dose-dependent manner. A change in surface chemistry and mineralization of the phosphate-containing surfaces verified by scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analysis was found to be important for hFOB cell attachment and differentiation. We also demonstrated that phosphate-containing hydrogels support attachment and differentiation of primary bone marrow stromal cells. These findings suggest that BP-modified hydrogels are capable of sustaining attachment and differentiation of both bone marrow stromal cells and osteoblasts that are critical for bone regeneration.
Hydrogel; Bone regeneration; Osteoblast; Rabbit marrow stromal cells
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.
pH-responsive; Doxorubicin; Microgels; Chordoma; Oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate
Polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF) is a cross-linkable derivate of polycaprolactone diol that has been shown to be an effective nerve conduit material that supports regeneration across segmental nerve defects and has warranted future clinical trials. Degradation of the previously studied PCLF (PCLFDEG) releases toxic small molecules of diethylene glycol used as the initiator for the synthesis of polycaprolactone diol. In an effort to eliminate this toxic degradation product we present a strategy for the synthesis of PCLF from either propylene glycol (PCLFPPD) or glycerol (PCLFGLY). PCLFPPD is linear and resembles the previously studied PCLFDEG, while PCLFGLY is branched and exhibits dramatically different material properties. The synthesis and characterization of their thermal, rheological, and mechanical properties are reported. The results show that the linear PCLFPPD has material properties similar to the previously studied PCLFDEG. The branched PCLFGLY exhibits dramatically lower crystalline properties resulting in lower rheological and mechanical moduli, and is therefore a more compliant material. In addition, the question of an appropriate FDA approvable sterilization method is addressed. This study shows that autoclave sterilization on PCLF materials is an acceptable sterilization method for cross-linked PCLF and has minimal effect on the PCLF thermal and mechanical properties.
Polycaprolactone fumarate; polyester; sterilization; nerve regeneration
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
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.
Electrical Stimulation; Polypyrrole; Nerve; PCLF; PC12 cells
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.
Biomedical Engineering; Tissue Development and Growth; Central Nervous System; Polymeric Scaffolds
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.
Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate); Photo-crosslinking; Peripheral nerve regeneration; Cell responses