Degradative properites and cytocompatibility of a mixed-mode hydrogel containing oligo[poly(thylene glycol) fumarate] and thiol-poly(Ethylene Glycol)-Thiol
Brink, Kelly Sinclair
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Knee injuries are a major cause of orthopedic disabilities in the United States. Current reconstruction techniques for torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) require extensive surgery and long physical rehabilitation times since the tissue does not heal upon injury. A common ACL injury occurs where the gap at the rupture site remains open after injury and fails to heal, which can lead to premature osteoarthritis and disability. Hydrogels are a popular material used for tissue engineering applications due to their ability to retain water and good biocompatibility. Previous work has shown that hydrogels can be made through the mixed-mode reaction of radically crosslinked thiol groups and acrylate end groups. This project explores mixed-mode oligo[poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate] (OPF)-based hydrogels as alternate carriers for regeneration of partial tear ligament defects. The main purpose of this project was to determine the degradative properties of and cell response to thiol-PEG-thiol (PEG-diSH), a novel hydrogel material. The swelling and degradative properties of hydrogels containing three components OPF, PEG-diacrylate (PEG-DA), and PEG-diSH were characterized by their fold swelling. In addition, cell viability, morphology changes, proliferation and collagen production were analyzed in tri-ratio hydrogels with and without the presence of RGD over three weeks. Results showed that the hydrogels containing PEG-diSH demonstrated significantly larger fold swelling and promoted cell clustering (as shown by increased area of clusters), probably due to the larger mesh size and possibly due to the presence of free thiol functional groups present in the network from the mixed-mode reaction. However, an increase in cell number was not found in these gels up to eight days, suggesting that cell migration may play a role in the appearance of clusters. Additionally, increased cell spreading in response to RGD was observed inside gels containing PEG-diSH; no spreading was seen in the non PEG-diSH gels (± RGD), possibly because the mesh size was too small to allow for clustering or spreading within the matrix. Results from this work suggest that the presence of PEG-diSH could promote cell-cell contact within the clusters which could be useful in systems where direct contact promotes tissue formation or cell differentiation.