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Biomaterials. 2012 Sep;33(26):6052-60. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.04.058. Epub 2012 Jun 4.

Modulation of chondrocyte behavior through tailoring functional synthetic saccharide-peptide hydrogels.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California-Irvine, 1102 Natural Sciences II, Irvine, CA 92606, USA.


Tailoring three-dimensional (3D) biomaterial environments to provide specific cues in order to modulate function of encapsulated cells could potentially eliminate the need for addition of exogenous cues in cartilage tissue engineering. We recently developed saccharide-peptide copolymer hydrogels for cell culture and tissue engineering applications. In this study, we aim to tailor our saccharide-peptide hydrogel for encapsulating and culturing chondrocytes in 3D and examine the effects of changing single amino acid moieties differing in hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity (valine (V), cysteine (C), tyrosine (Y)) on modulation of chondrocyte function. Encapsulated chondrocytes remained viable over 21 days in vitro. Glycosaminoglycan and collagen content was significantly higher in Y-functionalized hydrogels compared to V-functionalized hydrogels. Extensive matrix accumulation and concomitant increase in mechanical properties was evident over time, particularly with the presence of Y amino acid. After 21 days in vitro, Y-functionalized hydrogels attained a modulus of 193 ± 46 kPa, compared to 44 ± 21 kPa for V-functionalized hydrogels. Remarkably, mechanical and biochemical properties of chondrocyte-laden hydrogels were modulated by change in a single amino acid moiety. This unique property, combined with the versatility and biocompatibility, makes our saccharide-peptide hydrogels promising candidates for further investigation of combinatorial effects of multiple functional groups on controlling chondrocyte and other cellular function and behavior.

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