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Biomacromolecules. 2009 Dec 14;10(12):3306-16. doi: 10.1021/bm900900e.

Injectable, highly flexible, and thermosensitive hydrogels capable of delivering superoxide dismutase.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


Injectable hydrogels are attractive for cell and drug delivery. In this work, we synthesized a family of injectable, biodegradable, fast gelling and thermosensitive hydrogels based on N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm), acrylic acid (AAc), dimethyl-gamma-butyrolactone acrylate (DBA), and 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate-poly(trimethylene carbontate) (HEMAPTMC) macromer. Type I collagen was composited with the hydrogels to improve their biocompatibility. The hydrogel copolymer solutions were readily injectable at 4 degrees C. The solutions exhibited thermal transition temperatures ranging from 23.6 to 24.5 degrees C and were capable of gelation within 7 s at 37 degrees C to form highly flexible and soft hydrogels with moduli from 39 to 119 KPa and breaking strains >1000%, depending on the copolymer composition and collagen addition. After 2 weeks incubation in PBS, the hydrogels demonstrated weight losses ranging from 10-20%. The completely degraded hydrogels had thermal transition temperatures >40 degrees C and were soluble at body temperature. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) was encapsulated in the hydrogels for the purpose of capturing superoxide within the inflammatory tissue after being delivered in vivo. The hydrogels demonstrated a sustained release profile during a 21-day release period. The release kinetics was dependent on the SOD loading, collagen addition, hydrogel degradation and water content. The released SOD remained bioactive during the entire release period. To test in vitro if the loaded SOD could protect cells encapsulated within the hydrogel from attack by superoxide, human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) were encapsulated in SOD-loaded hydrogels and cultured in medium containing superoxide generated by activated macrophages. It was found that SOD loading largely suppressed superoxide penetration into the hydrogel and cell membrane. Under normal culture conditions, SOD loading stimulated MSC growth. The SOD-loaded hydrogel exhibited significantly higher cell numbers than the non-SOD loaded hydrogel during a 7-day culture period. These results demonstrated that the developed hydrogels could be used as delivery vehicles for stem cell therapy and drug delivery.

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