COE Research Featured on Cover of Tissue Engineering Part A
Research from Assistant Professors Sidi A. Bencherif (ChE) and Ambika G. Bajpayee (BioE) on “Hyaluronic Acid-Based Shape-Memory Cryogel Scaffolds for Focal Cartilage Defect Repair” was featured on the cover of the June 2021 Tissue Engineering Part A journal.
Traumatic joint injuries can result in significant cartilage defects, which can greatly increase the risk of osteoarthritis development. Due to the limited self-healing capacity of avascular cartilage, tissue engineering approaches are required for filling defects and promoting cartilage regeneration. Current approaches utilize invasive surgical procedures for extraction and implantation of autologous chondrocytes; therefore, injectable biomaterials have gained interest to minimize the risk of infection as well as patient pain and discomfort. In this study, we engineered biomimetic, hyaluronic acid (HA)-based cryogel scaffolds that possess shape-memory properties as they contract and regain their shape after syringe injection to noninvasively fill cartilage defects. The cryogels, fabricated with HA and glycidyl methacrylate at −20°C, resulted in an elastic, macroporous, and highly interconnected network that provided a conducive microenvironment for chondrocytes to remain viable and metabolically active after injection through a syringe needle. Chondrocytes seeded within cryogels and cultured for 15 days exhibited enhanced cell proliferation, metabolism, and production of cartilage extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycans compared with HA-based hydrogels. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining revealed production of collagen type II from chondrocyte-seeded cryogels, indicating the maintenance of cell phenotype. These results demonstrate the potential of chondrocyte-seeded, HA-based, injectable cryogel scaffolds to promote regeneration of cartilage tissue for nonsurgically invasive defect repair.