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Langmuir. 2012 Apr 10;28(14):6076-87. doi: 10.1021/la2041746. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

Injectable solid peptide hydrogel as a cell carrier: effects of shear flow on hydrogels and cell payload.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Delaware Biotechnology Institute, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716, USA.


β-hairpin peptide-based hydrogels are a class of injectable solid hydrogels that can deliver encapsulated cells or molecular therapies to a target site via syringe or catheter injection as a carrier material. These physical hydrogels can shear-thin and consequently flow as a low-viscosity material under a sufficient shear stress but immediately recover back into a solid upon removal of the stress, allowing them to be injected as preformed gel solids. Hydrogel behavior during flow was studied in a cylindrical capillary geometry that mimicked the actual situation of injection through a syringe needle in order to quantify effects of shear-thin injection delivery on hydrogel flow behavior and encapsulated cell payloads. It was observed that all β-hairpin peptide hydrogels investigated displayed a promising flow profile for injectable cell delivery: a central wide plug flow region where gel material and cell payloads experienced little or no shear rate, and a narrow shear zone close to the capillary wall where gel and cells were subject to shear deformation. The width of the plug flow region was found to be weakly dependent on hydrogel rigidity and flow rate. Live-dead assays were performed on encapsulated MG63 cells 3 h after injection flow and revealed that shear-thin delivery through the capillary had little impact on cell viability and the spatial distribution of encapsulated cell payloads. These observations help us to fundamentally understand how the gels flow during injection through a thin catheter and how they immediately restore mechanically and morphologically relative to preflow, static gels.

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