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Tissue Eng Part A. 2013 Jan;19(1-2):224-34. doi: 10.1089/ten.tea.2012.0120. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

Fibrin-loaded porous poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels as scaffold materials for vascularized tissue formation.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Vascular network formation within biomaterial scaffolds is essential for the generation of properly functioning engineered tissues. In this study, a method is described for generating composite hydrogels in which porous poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels serve as scaffolds for mechanical and structural support, and fibrin is loaded within the pores to induce vascularized tissue formation. Porous PEG hydrogels were generated by a salt leaching technique with 100-150-μm pore size and thrombin (Tb) preloaded within the scaffold. Fibrinogen (Fg) was loaded into pores with varying concentrations and polymerized into fibrin due to the presence of Tb, with loading efficiencies ranging from 79.9% to 82.4%. Fibrin was distributed throughout the entire porous hydrogels, lasted for greater than 20 days, and increased hydrogel mechanical stiffness. A rodent subcutaneous implant model was used to evaluate the influence of fibrin loading on in vivo response. At weeks 1, 2, and 3, all hydrogels had significant tissue invasion, but no difference in the depth of invasion was found with the Fg concentration. Hydrogels with fibrin loading induced more vascularization, with a significantly higher vascular density at 20 mg/mL (week 1) and 40 mg/mL (weeks 2 and 3) Fg concentration compared to hydrogels without fibrin. In conclusion, we have developed a composite hydrogel that supports rapid vascularized tissue ingrowth, and thus holds great potential for tissue engineering applications.

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