Temperature-responsive hydroxybutyl chitosan for the culture of mesenchymal stem cells and intervertebral disk cells.
Temperature-responsive polymers are attractive candidates for applications related to injectable delivery of biologically active therapeutics, such as stem cells. In this study, we evaluate the potential of thermosensitive hydroxybutyl chitosan (HBC) as a biomaterial for the culture of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) and cells derived from the intervertebral disk, with the eventual goal of using the HBC polymer as an injectable matrix/cell therapeutic. Conjugation of hydroxybutyl groups to chitosan renders the polymer water soluble and thermally responsive. Below its lower critical solution temperature, a solution of HBC can be maintained indefinitely in its solvated state. Upon exposure to a 37 degrees C environment, within 60 s, a 3.8 wt% HBC solution rapidly forms a gel that can be maneuvered with forceps. Upon cooling, the gel once again is able to revert to its solvated state. The gel exhibits a dramatic increase in both G' and G'' with increasing temperature, signifying a temperature-dependent enhancement of gel mechanical properties. Although a solid structure upon gelation, due to its physical nature of polymer interaction and gel formation, the gel exhibits a fluid-like viscoelastic behavior when exposed to shear stresses of up to 10% strain, with both G' and G'' approaching zero with increasing shear stress. Formulations of HBC gels presented in this study have gelation temperatures ranging from 13.0 to 34.6 degrees C and water contents of 67-95%. Minimal cytotoxicity in MSC and disk cell cultures was observed with these polymers up to a concentration of 5 wt%. Detection of metabolic activity, genetic analysis of synthesized mRNA, and histological staining of MSC and disk cell cultures in these gels collectively indicate cell proliferation without a loss in metabolic activity and extracellular matrix production. This study suggests the potential of HBC gel as an injectable carrier for future applications of delivering therapeutics to encourage a biologically relevant reconstruction of the degenerated disk.
Dang, JM; Sun, DDN; Shin-Ya, Y; Sieber, AN; Kostuik, JP; Leong, KW
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