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Tissue Eng Part A. 2009 Jul;15(7):1695-707. doi: 10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0238.

In vitro evaluation of macroporous hydrogels to facilitate stem cell infiltration, growth, and mineralization.

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Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60612-7231, USA.


Hydrogels have gained acceptance as biomaterials in a wide range of applications, including pharmaceutical formulations, drug delivery, and tissue sealants. However, exploiting the potential of hydrogels as scaffolds for cell transplantation, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine still remains a challenge due to, in part, scaffold design limitations. Here, we describe a highly interconnected, macroporous poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogel scaffold, with pores ranging from 100 to 600 microm. The scaffold exhibits rapid cell uptake and cell seeding without the need of any external force or device with high incorporation efficiency. When human mesenchymal stem cells are seeded within the porous scaffolds, the scaffolds were found to promote long-term stem cell viability, and on exposure to osteogenic medium, elicit an mineralization response as evaluated by an increased alkaline phosphatase activity (per cell) and calcium and phosphate content within the constructs. The atomic composition of the mineralized matrix was further determined by energy dispersive spectroscopy and found to be similar to calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite, the amorphous biological precursor of bone. The macroporous design of the hydrogel appears advantageous over similar porous hydrogel scaffolds with respect to ease of synthesis, ease of stem cell seeding, and its ability to support long-term stem cell survival and possible differentiation.

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