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Injectable, degradable, electroactive nanocomposite hydrogels containing conductive polymer nanoparticles for biomedical applications

Authors Wang Q, Wang Q, Teng W

Received 19 August 2015

Accepted for publication 28 November 2015

Published 5 January 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 131—145


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 7

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang

Qinmei Wang,1 Qiong Wang,2 Wei Teng2

1Laboratory of Biomaterials, Key Laboratory on Assisted Circulation, Ministry of Health, Cardiovascular Division, First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Prosthodontics, Hospital of Stomatology, Institute of Stomatological Research, Guanghua School of Stomatology, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China

Abstract: Injectable electroactive hydrogels (eGels) are promising in regenerative medicine and drug delivery, however, it is still a challenge to obtain such hydrogels simultaneously possessing other properties including uniform structure, degradability, robustness, and biocompatibility. An emerging strategy to endow hydrogels with desirable properties is to incorporate functional nanoparticles in their network. Herein, we report the synthesis and characterization of an injectable hydrogel based on oxidized alginate (OA) crosslinking gelatin reinforced by electroactive tetraaniline-graft-OA nanoparticles (nEOAs), where nEOAs are expected to impart electroactivity besides reinforcement without significantly degrading the other properties of hydrogels. Assays of transmission electron microscopy, 1H nuclear magnetic resonance, and dynamic light scattering reveal that EOA can spontaneously and quickly self-assemble into robust nanoparticles in water, and this nanoparticle structure can be kept at pH 3~9. Measurement of the gel time by rheometer and the stir bar method confirms the formation of the eGels, and their gel time is dependent on the weight content of nEOAs. As expected, adding nEOAs to hydrogels does not cause the phase separation (scanning electron microscopy observation), but it improves mechanical strength up to ~8 kPa and conductivity up to ~10-6 S/cm in our studied range. Incubating eGels in phosphate-buffered saline leads to their further swelling with an increase of water content <6% and gradual degradation. When growing mesenchymal stem cells on eGels with nEOA content ≤14%, the growth curves and morphology of cells were found to be similar to that on tissue culture plastic; when implanting these eGels on a chick chorioallantoic membrane for 1 week, mild inflammation response appeared without any other structural changes, indicating their good in vitro and in vivo biocompatibility. With injectability, uniformity, degradability, electroactivity, relative robustness, and biocompatibility, these eGels may have a huge potential as scaffolds for tissue regeneration and matrix for stimuli responsive drug release.

Keywords: injectability, electroactivity, nanocomposite hydrogels, reinforcement, tetraaniline, alginate, gelatin

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