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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 8;104(19):7791-6. Epub 2007 Apr 30.

Controlling hydrogelation kinetics by peptide design for three-dimensional encapsulation and injectable delivery of cells.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Delaware Biotechnology Institute, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.


A peptide-based hydrogelation strategy has been developed that allows homogenous encapsulation and subsequent delivery of C3H10t1/2 mesenchymal stem cells. Structure-based peptide design afforded MAX8, a 20-residue peptide that folds and self-assembles in response to DMEM resulting in mechanically rigid hydrogels. The folding and self-assembly kinetics of MAX8 have been tuned so that when hydrogelation is triggered in the presence of cells, the cells become homogeneously impregnated within the gel. A unique characteristic of these gel-cell constructs is that when an appropriate shear stress is applied, the hydrogel will shear-thin resulting in a low-viscosity gel. However, after the application of shear has stopped, the gel quickly resets and recovers its initial mechanical rigidity in a near quantitative fashion. This property allows gel/cell constructs to be delivered via syringe with precision to target sites. Homogenous cellular distribution and cell viability are unaffected by the shear thinning process and gel/cell constructs stay fixed at the point of introduction, suggesting that these gels may be useful for the delivery of cells to target biological sites in tissue regeneration efforts.

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