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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2012 Mar;100(3):776-85. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.34015. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

Extended and sequential delivery of protein from injectable thermoresponsive hydrogels.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219, USA.


Thermoresponsive hydrogels are attractive for their injectability and retention in tissue sites where they may serve as a mechanical support and as a scaffold to guide tissue remodeling. Our objective in this report was to develop a thermoresponsive, biodegradable hydrogel system that would be capable of protein release from two distinct reservoirs--one where protein was attached to the hydrogel backbone, and one where protein was loaded into biodegradable microparticles mixed into the network. Thermoresponsive hydrogels consisting of N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm), 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA), and biodegradable methacrylate polylactide were synthesized along with modified copolymers incorporating 1 mol % protein-reactive methacryloxy N-hydroxysuccinimide (MANHS), hydrophilic acrylic acid (AAc), or both. In vitro bovine serum albumin (BSA) release was studied from hydrogels, poly(lactide-co-glycolide) microparticles, or microparticles mixed into the hydrogels. The synthesized copolymers were able to gel below 37°C and release protein in excess of 3 months. The presence of MANHS and AAc in the copolymers was associated with higher loaded protein retention during thermal transition (45% vs. 22%) and faster release (2 months), respectively. Microspheres entrapped in the hydrogel released protein in a delayed fashion relative to microspheres in saline. The combination of a protein-reactive hydrogel mixed with protein-loaded microspheres demonstrated a sequential release of specific BSA populations. Overall the described drug delivery system combines the advantages of injectability, degradability, extended release, and sequential release, which may be useful in tissue engineering applications.

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