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Injectable stem cell-laden supramolecular hydrogels enhance in situ osteochondral regeneration via the sustained co-delivery of hydrophilic and hydrophobic chondrogenic molecules

Xu, Jianbin, Feng, Qian, Lin, Sien, Yuan, Weihao, Li, Rui, Li, Jinming, Wei, Kongchang, Chen, Xiaoyu, Zhang, Kunyu, Yang, Yanhua, Wu, Tianyi, Wang, Bin, Zhu, Meiling, Guo, Rui, Li, Gang, Bian, Liming
Biomaterials 2019 v.210 pp. 51-61
biocompatible materials, cartilage, chondrogenesis, crosslinking, drugs, encapsulation, gelatin, humans, hydrogels, hydrophilicity, hydrophobicity, mesenchymal stromal cells, models, rats, stem cells, therapeutics, transforming growth factor beta 1, viability
Hydrogels have been widely used as the carrier material of therapeutic cell and drugs for articular cartilage repair. We previously demonstrated a unique host-guest macromer (HGM) approach to prepare mechanically resilient, self-healing and injectable supramolecular gelatin hydrogels free of chemical crosslinking. In this work, we show that compared with conventional hydrogels our supramolecular gelatin hydrogels mediate more sustained release of small molecular (kartogenin) and proteinaceous (TGF-β1) chondrogenic agents, leading to enhanced chondrogenesis of the encapsulated human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSCs) in vitro and in vivo. More importantly, the supramolecular nature of our hydrogels allows injection of the pre-fabricated hydrogels containing the encapsulated hBMSCs and chondrogenic agents, and our data show that the injection process has little negative impact on the viability and chondrogenesis of the encapsulated cells and subsequent neocartilage development. Furthermore, the stem cell-laden supramolecular hydrogels administered via injection through a needle effectively promote the regeneration of both hyaline cartilage and subchondral bone in the rat osteochondral defect model. These results demonstrate that our supramolecular HGM hydrogels are promising delivery biomaterials of therapeutic agents and cells for cartilage repair via minimally invasive procedures. This unique capability of injecting cell-laden hydrogels to target sites will greatly facilitate stem cell therapies.