Modulating fibrin matrix properties via fibrin knob peptide functionalized microgels
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Fibrin is the body's natural provisional matrix activated in response to vascular injury in which noncovalent knob:hole interactions between fibrin monomers lead to the assembly of fibrin for clot formation. In this study we aimed to exploit fibrin knob:hole affinity interactions with swelling, space filling microgels for the development of a potential bio-synthetic hybrid polymer system with hemostatic properties. Previous work has explored the inherent binding interactions of various fibrin knobs and their complementary polymerization holes, which have led to the development of fibrin knob peptide mimic (GPRPFPAC) with enhanced binding affinity for fibrin(ogen) holes. By coupling this enhanced fibrinogen binding peptide with a pNIPAm microgel system capable of being dynamically tuned and self-assembled, we hypothesized the specific and rapidly triggered formation of a bulk hydrogel in a wound environment (i.e. in the presence of fibrinogen). We found that at the peptide ligand density and concentrations of microgels used, that a rapid formation of a gel did not occur in the presence of fibrinogen alone. However with fibrinogen and thrombin, we found that fibrin network polymerization, structure, and viscoelastic properties were greatly altered in the presence of knob peptide-conjugated microgels.