Main content area

Reversibly Assembled Electroconductive Hydrogel via a Host–Guest Interaction for 3D Cell Culture

Xu, Yong, Cui, Meiying, Patsis, Panagiotis A., Günther, Markus, Yang, Xuegeng, Eckert, Kerstin, Zhang, Yixin
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2019 v.11 no.8 pp. 7715-7724
alginates, cell culture, electrical properties, electron microscopy, encapsulation, hydrogels, myoblasts, nanoparticles, polymerization, polymers, tissue engineering
The study of cells responding to an electroconductive environment is impeded by the lack of a method, which would allow the encapsulation of cells in an extracellular matrix-like 3D electroactive matrix, and more challengingly, permit a simple mechanism to release cells for further characterization. Herein, we report a polysaccharide-based conductive hydrogel system formed via a β-cyclodextrin-adamantane host–guest interaction. Oxidative polymerization of 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene (EDOT) in the presence of adamantyl-modified sulfated alginate (S-Alg-Ad) results in bio-electroconductive polymer PEDOT:S-Alg-Ad, which can form hydrogel with poly-β-cyclodextrin (Pβ-CD). The PEDOT:S-Alg-Ad/Pβ-CD hydrogels can be tuned on aspects of mechanical and electrical properties, exhibit self-healing feature, and are injectable. Electron microscopy suggested that the difference in stiffness and conductivity is associated with the nacre-like layered nanostructures when different sizes of PEDOT:S-Alg-Ad nanoparticles were used. Myoblast C2C12 cells were encapsulated in the conductive hydrogel and exhibited proliferation rate comparable to that in nonconductive S-Alg-Ad/Pβ-CD hydrogel. The cells could be released from the hydrogels by adding the β-CD monomer. Astonishingly, the conductive hydrogel can dramatically promote myotube-like structure formation, which is not in the non-electroconductive hydrogel. The ability to embed and release cells in an electroconductive environment will open new doors for cell culture and tissue engineering.