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Generation of Biomimetic Artificial Cartilage using Nanostructured Photopolymerizable Gelatin

G.E.M. Tovar
Fraunhofer Institute IGB / University of Stuttgart, DE

Keywords: hydrogel, artificial scaffold, biomimetic surface


The generation of functional tissues on appropriate substrates with well-defined properties has been a major topic in recent scientific research. Three-dimensional (3D) structures have significant effects upon cellular be¬havior. Therefore, they are essential for the functional cultivation of cells and the optimization of cell substrates. A promising approach to mimic the native extracellular matrices of tissues in vitro is the use of 3D polymeric hydrogels. Besides synthetic polymers, e.g. PEG, biological materials such as gelatin are at focus for the preparation of hydrogels for tissue engineering approaches due to their ability to promote cell adhesion by Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-like sequences. In the present study we describe the preparation of hydrogels based on photo¬poly¬merizable gelatin and their characterization with regard to controllable physico-chemical properties. Furthermore gelatin hydrogels were investigated as cell substrates and encapsulation matrices for articular chondrocytes to evaluate their applicability with respect to the generation of artificial cartilage. Gelatin methacrylamide (Gel-MAAm) was prepared by reaction of gelatin with methacrylic anhydride. The meth¬acrylation was verified using 1H-NMR- and FTIR-spectroscopy. The degree of substitution of NH2 residues by methacrylic functional groups was determined using 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene-sulfonic acid.. Planar as well as cell-laden hydrogels were prepared by photoinduced radical crosslinking of solubilized Gel-MAAm in the presence of a water-soluble initiator, Irgacure 2959. Swelling characteristics and rheological measurements were used to distinguish the viscoelastic properties of the hydrogel film. Porcine chondrocytes were seeded onto planar gelatin gels or encapsulated into the gels . The impact of gels of different mechanical properties on cell viability, adhesion, spreading and proliferation was analysed. This study provides a base for the fabrication of cell-laden gelatin hydrogels as an artificial three-dimensional cartilage substitution.
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