Poly(ethylene glycol) cryogels as potential cell scaffolds: Effect of polymerization conditions on cryogel microstructure and properties
We report the synthesis and characterization of interconnected macroporous network structures of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) using cryogelation techniques. Novel monolithic networks containing a gradient of pore size in a layered fashion were created from a single precursor by manipulating their polymerization kinetics. Maintaining conditions that promote the rate of gelation compared to that of the nucleation of ice crystals leads to formation of either conventional hydrogel-like network structures or continuous heterogeneous networks containing layers of hydrogel-like and cryogel-like microstructures. In contrast, conditions promoting a faster rate of the nucleation of ice crystals compared to rate of gelation result in cryogels with a nearly homogeneous interconnected macroporous network. The rates of polymerization and nucleation of ice crystals were altered using a number of different parameters such as concentration of initiator, freezing temperature, and degree of supercooling. Compared to conventional hydrogels, the cryogels exhibit higher stress and strain at break; their mechanical and equilibrium swelling properties show a strong correlation with the network microstructure. Cell viability studies suggest no detrimental effect of these scaffolds on cell attachment and their distribution. Furthermore, a time dependent increase in chondrocyte proliferation was observed in cryogels over a long period of culture. © 2010 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Hwang, Y; Zhang, C; Varghese, S
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