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Biomaterials. 2012 Sep;33(26):6113-22. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.05.030. Epub 2012 Jun 9.

Hyaluronic acid-based hydrogels functionalized with heparin that support controlled release of bioactive BMP-2.

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Institute of Medical Biology, A*STAR, 8A Biomedical Grove, #06-06 Immunos, Singapore 138648, Singapore.


Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) is a potent osteoinductive factor, yet its clinical use is limited by a short biological half-life, rapid local clearance and propensity for side effects. Heparin (HP), a highly sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) that avidly binds BMP-2, has inherent biological properties that may circumvent these limitations. Here, we compared hyaluronan-based hydrogels formulated to include heparin (Heprasil™) with similar gels without heparin (Glycosil™) for their ability to deliver bioactive BMP-2 in vitro and in vivo. The osteogenic activity of BMP-2 released from the hydrogels was evaluated by monitoring alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and SMAD 1/5/8 phosphorylation in mesenchymal precursor cells. The osteoinductive ability of these hydrogels was determined in a rat ectopic bone model by 2D radiography, 3D μ-CT and histological analyses at 8 weeks post-implantation. Both hydrogels sustain the release of BMP-2. Importantly, the inclusion of a small amount of heparin (0.3% w/w) attenuated release of BMP-2 and sustained its osteogenic activity for up to 28 days. In contrast, hydrogels lacking heparin released more BMP-2 initially but were unable to maintain BMP-2 activity at later time points. Ectopic bone-forming assays using transplanted hydrogels emphasized the therapeutic importance of the initial burst of BMP-2 rather than its long-term osteogenic activity. Thus, tuning the burst release phase of BMP-2 from hydrogels may be advantageous for optimal bone formation.

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