Development of a Thermoresponsive and Chemically Crosslinkable Hydrogel System for Craniofacial Bone Tissue Engineering
Klouda, Eleftheria Leda
Mikos, Antonios G.
Doctor of Philosophy
A novel injectable hydrogel system for cell delivery in craniofacial bone tissue engineering was developed in this work. The hydrogel employs a dual solidification mechanism by containing units that gel upon temperature increase to physiological temperature and groups that allow for covalent crosslinking. The successful synthesis of macromers for hydrogel fabrication was demonstrated and structure-property relations were established. The hydrophilic-hydrophobic balance of the macromers was found to be an important design criterion towards their resulting thermal gelation properties. When tested with cells in vitro , macromers with different molecular compositions, molecular weights and transition temperatures were all found to be cytocompatible. The introduction of a chemically crosslinkable group in the macromers resulted in hydrogels with improved stability. The effect of the addition of these highly reactive groups on cell viability was evaluated and parameters that enable viable cell encapsulation in the hydrogels were determined. It was shown that there was a dose- and time-dependent effect of the macromers on cell viability. Increased degrees of modification were found to decrease the thermal transition temperature as well as the cytocompatibility of the macromers. Hydrogels were fabricated at physiological temperature upon physical gelation and chemical crosslinking with the addition of a thermal free radical initiator system. The swelling behavior of the hydrogels was characterized and it was found to be controlled by the chemistry of the macromer end group, the concentration of the initiator system used, the fabrication interval as well as the incubation temperature and medium. In order to evaluate the hydrogels as cell carriers, mesenchymal stems cells were encapsulated in the hydrogels over a 21-day period. Cells retained their viability over the duration of the study and exhibited markers of osteogenic differentiation when cultured with appropriate supplements. These findings hold promise for the use of these hydrogel systems for cell encapsulation in tissue engineering applications.