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J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2017 Oct;105(7):1863-1873. doi: 10.1002/jbm.b.33705. Epub 2016 May 30.

The effect of hypoxia on thermosensitive poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) hydrogels with tunable mechanical integrity for cartilage tissue engineering.

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Department of Chemistry, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.


Cartilage repair presents a daunting challenge in tissue engineering applications due to the low oxygen conditions (hypoxia) affiliated in diseased states. Hence, the use of biomaterial scaffolds with unique variability is imperative to treat diseased or damaged cartilage. Thermosensitive hydrogels show promise as injectable materials that can be used as tissue scaffolds for cartilage tissue regeneration. However, uses in clinical applications are limited to due mechanical stability and therapeutic efficacy to treat diseased tissue. In this study, several composite hydrogels containing poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) (PVCL) and methacrylated hyaluronic acid (meHA) were prepared using free radical polymerization to produce PVCL-graft-HA (PVCL-g-HA) and characterized using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, and scanning electron microscopy. Lower critical solution temperatures and gelation temperatures were confirmed in the range of 33-34°C and 41-45°C, respectively. Using dynamic sheer rheology, the temperature dependence of elastic (G') and viscous (G″) modulus between 25°C and 45°C, revealed that PVCL-g-HA hydrogels at 5% (w/v) concentration exhibited the moduli of 7 Pa (G') to 4 Pa (G″). After 10 days at 1% oxygen, collagen production on PVCL-g-HA hydrogels was 153 ± 25 μg/mg (20%) and 106 ± 18 μg/mg showing a 10-fold increase compared to meHA controls. These studies show promise in PVCL-g-HA hydrogels for the treatment of diseased or damaged articular cartilage.


chondrocyte; hyaluronic acid; hydrogel; hypoxia; smart material

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