Photocrosslinkable laminin-functionalized polyethylene glycol hydrogel for intervertebral disc regeneration.
Intervertebral disc (IVD) disorders and age-related degeneration are believed to contribute to lower back pain. There is significant interest in cell-based strategies for regenerating the nucleus pulposus (NP) region of the disc; however, few scaffolds have been evaluated for their ability to promote or maintain an immature NP cell phenotype. Previous studies have shown that NP cell-laminin interactions promote cell adhesion and biosynthesis, which suggests a laminin-functionalized biomaterial may be useful for promoting or maintaining the NP cell phenotype. Here, a photocrosslinkable poly(ethylene glycol)-laminin 111 (PEG-LM111) hydrogel was developed. The mechanical properties of PEG-LM111 hydrogel could be tuned within the range of dynamic shear moduli values previously reported for human NP. When primary immature porcine NP cells were seeded onto PEG-LM111 hydrogels of varying stiffnesses, LM111-presenting hydrogels were found to promote cell clustering and increased levels of sGAG production as compared to stiffer LM111-presenting and PEG-only gels. When cells were encapsulated in 3-D gels, hydrogel formulation was found to influence NP cell metabolism and expression of proposed NP phenotypic markers, with higher expression of N-cadherin and cytokeratin 8 observed for cells cultured in softer (<1kPa) PEG-LM111 hydrogels. Overall, these findings suggest that soft, LM111-functionalized hydrogels may promote or maintain the expression of specific markers characteristic of an immature NP cell phenotype.
Francisco, AT; Hwang, PY; Jeong, CG; Jing, L; Chen, J; Setton, LA
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