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Hydrogels functionalized with N-cadherin mimetic peptide enhance osteogenesis of hMSCs by emulating the osteogenic niche

Zhu, Meiling, Lin, Sien, Sun, Yuxin, Feng, Qian, Li, Gang, Bian, Liming
Biomaterials 2016 v.77 pp. 44-52
alkaline phosphatase, bone formation, cadherins, cell adhesion, collagen, genetic markers, humans, hyaluronic acid, hydrocolloids, mineralization, osteoblasts, stem cells
N-cadherin is considered to be the key factor in directing cell–cell interactions during mesenchymal condensation, which is essential to osteogenesis. In this study, hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels are biofunctionalized with an N-cadherin mimetic peptide to mimic the pro-osteogenic niche in the endosteal space to promote the osteogenesis of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Results show that the conjugation of the N-cadherin peptide in the HA hydrogels enhances the expression of the osteogenic marker genes in the seeded hMSCs. Furthermore, the biofunctionalized HA hydrogels promote the alkaline phosphatase activity, type I collagen deposition, and matrix mineralization by the seeded hMSCs under both in vitro and in vivo condition. We postulate that the biofunctionalized hydrogels emulates the N-cadherin-mediated homotypic cell–cell adhesion among MSCs and the “orthotypic” interaction between the osteoblasts and MSCs. These findings demonstrate that the biofunctionalized HA hydrogels provide a supportive niche microenvironment for the osteogenesis of hMSCs.