Structural analysis of photocrosslinkable methacryloyl-modified protein derivatives.
ABSTRACT: Biochemically modified proteins have attracted significant attention due to their widespread applications as biomaterials. For instance, chemically modified gelatin derivatives have been widely explored to develop hydrogels for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. Among the reported methods, modification of gelatin with methacrylic anhydride (MA) stands out as a convenient and efficient strategy to introduce functional groups and form hydrogels via photopolymerization. Combining light-activation of modified gelatin with soft lithography has enabled the materialization of microfabricated hydrogels. So far, this gelatin derivative has been referred to in the literature as gelatin methacrylate, gelatin methacrylamide, or gelatin methacryloyl, with the same abbreviation of GelMA. Considering the complex composition of gelatin and the presence of different functional groups on the amino acid residues, both hydroxyl groups and amine groups can possibly react with methacrylic anhydride during functionalization of the protein. This can also apply to the modification of other proteins, such as recombinant human tropoelastin to form MA-modified tropoelastin (MeTro). Here, we employed analytical methods to quantitatively determine the amounts of methacrylate and methacrylamide groups in MA-modified gelatin and tropoelastin to better understand the reaction mechanism. By combining two chemical assays with instrumental techniques, such as proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) and liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), our results indicated that while amine groups had higher reactivity than hydroxyl groups and resulted in a majority of methacrylamide groups, modification of proteins by MA could lead to the formation of both methacrylamide and methacrylate groups. It is therefore suggested that the standard terms for GelMA and MeTro should be defined as gelatin methacryloyl and methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin, respectively, to remain consistent with the widespread abbreviations used in literature.
Project description:Gelatin-methacryloyl (GelMA) is a semi-synthetic hydrogel which consists of gelatin derivatized with methacrylamide and methacrylate groups. These hydrogels provide cells with an optimal biological environment (e.g., RGD motifs for adhesion) and can be quickly photo-crosslinked, which provides shape fidelity and stability at physiological temperature. In the present work, we demonstrated how GelMA hydrogels can be synthesized with a specific degree of functionalization (DoF) and adjusted to the intended application as a three-dimensional (3D) cell culture platform. The focus of this work lays on producing hydrogel scaffolds which provide a cell promoting microenvironment for human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hAD-MSCs) and are conductive to their adhesion, spreading, and proliferation. The control of mechanical GelMA properties by variation of concentration, DoF, and ultraviolet (UV) polymerization conditions is described. Moreover, hAD-MSC cell viability and morphology in GelMA of different stiffness was evaluated and compared. Polymerized hydrogels with and without cells could be digested in order to release encapsulated cells without loss of viability. We also demonstrated how hydrogel viscosity can be increased by the use of biocompatible additives, in order to enable the extrusion bioprinting of these materials. Taken together, we demonstrated how GelMA hydrogels can be used as a versatile tool for 3D cell cultivation.
Project description:Suturing peripheral nerve transections is the predominant therapeutic strategy for nerve repair. However, the use of sutures leads to scar tissue formation, hinders nerve regeneration, and prevents functional recovery. Fibrin-based adhesives have been widely used for nerve reconstruction, but their limited adhesive and mechanical strength and inability to promote nerve regeneration hamper their utility as a stand-alone intervention. To overcome these challenges, we engineered composite hydrogels that are neurosupportive and possess strong tissue adhesion. These composites were synthesized by photocrosslinking two naturally derived polymers, gelatin-methacryloyl (GelMA) and methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin (MeTro). The engineered materials exhibited tunable mechanical properties by varying the GelMA/MeTro ratio. In addition, GelMA/MeTro hydrogels exhibited 15-fold higher adhesive strength to nerve tissue ex vivo compared to fibrin control. Furthermore, the composites were shown to support Schwann cell (SC) viability and proliferation, as well as neurite extension and glial cell participation in vitro, which are essential cellular components for nerve regeneration. Finally, subcutaneously implanted GelMA/MeTro hydrogels exhibited slower degradation in vivo compared with pure GelMA, indicating its potential to support the growth of slowly regenerating nerves. Thus, GelMA/MeTro composites may be used as clinically relevant biomaterials to regenerate nerves and reduce the need for microsurgical suturing during nerve reconstruction.
Project description:We report the development of an efficient, customized spherical indentation-based testing method to systematically estimate the hydraulic permeability of gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogels fabricated in a wide range of mass concentrations and photocrosslinking conditions. Numerical simulations and Biot's theory of poroelasticity were implemented to calibrate our experimental data. We correlated elastic moduli and permeability coefficients with different GelMA concentrations and crosslinking densities. Our model could also predict drug release rates from the GelMA hydrogels and diffusion of biomolecules into the three-dimensional GelMA hydrogels. The results potentially provide a design map for choosing desired GelMA-based hydrogels for use in drug delivery, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine, which may be further expanded to predicting the permeability behaviors of various other hydrogel types. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE:GelMA hydrogels have attracted increasing attention in recent years as matrices for cell cultures and biomolecule delivery. This inexpensive polymer is derived from gelatin functionalized with methacryloyl groups that can be crosslinked by photochemical reactions. Here we report the development of an efficient, customized testing method to systematically estimate the hydraulic permeability of GelMA hydrogels. Hydraulic permeability indicates the resistance of GelMA hydrogels to the movement of saturated fluid. We used the model to measure the elastic moduli and permeability coefficients, providing a permeability map for various GelMA hydrogel formulations.
Project description:Natural hydrogels are promising scaffolds to engineer epidermis. Currently, natural hydrogels used to support epidermal regeneration are mainly collagen- or gelatin-based, which mimic the natural dermal extracellular matrix but often suffer from insufficient and uncontrollable mechanical and degradation properties. In this study, a photocrosslinkable gelatin (i.e., gelatin methacrylamide (GelMA)) with tunable mechanical, degradation, and biological properties is used to engineer the epidermis for skin tissue engineering applications. The results reveal that the mechanical and degradation properties of the developed hydrogels can be readily modified by varying the hydrogel concentration, with elastic and compressive moduli tuned from a few kPa to a few hundred kPa, and the degradation times varied from a few days to several months. Additionally, hydrogels of all concentrations displayed excellent cell viability (>90%) with increasing cell adhesion and proliferation corresponding to increases in hydrogel concentrations. Furthermore, the hydrogels are found to support keratinocyte growth, differentiation, and stratification into a reconstructed multilayered epidermis with adequate barrier functions. The robust and tunable properties of GelMA hydrogels suggest that the keratinocyte laden hydrogels can be used as epidermal substitutes, wound dressings, or substrates to construct various in vitro skin models.
Project description:Graphene-based materials are useful reinforcing agents to modify the mechanical properties of hydrogels. Here, an approach is presented to covalently incorporate graphene oxide (GO) into hydrogels via radical copolymerization to enhance the dispersion and conjugation of GO sheets within the hydrogels. GO is chemically modified to present surface-grafted methacrylate groups (MeGO). In comparison to GO, higher concentrations of MeGO can be stably dispersed in a pre-gel solution containing methacrylated gelatin (GelMA) without aggregation or significant increase in viscosity. In addition, the resulting MeGO-GelMA hydrogels demonstrate a significant increase in fracture strength with increasing MeGO concentration. Interestingly, the rigidity of the hydrogels is not significantly affected by the covalently incorporated GO. Therefore, this approach can be used to enhance the structural integrity and resistance to fracture of the hydrogels without inadvertently affecting their rigidity, which is known to affect the behavior of encapsulated cells. The biocompatibility of MeGO-GelMA hydrogels is confirmed by measuring the viability and proliferation of the encapsulated fibroblasts. Overall, this study highlights the advantage of covalently incorporating GO into a hydrogel system, and improves the quality of cell-laden hydrogels.
Project description:Gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) is a versatile material for a wide range of bioapplications. There is an intense interest in developing effective chemical strategies to prepare GelMA with a high degree of batch-to-batch consistency and controllability in terms of methacryloyl functionalization and physiochemical properties. Herein, we systematically investigated the batch-to-batch reproducibility and controllability of producing GelMA (target highly and lowly substituted versions) via a one-pot strategy. To assess the GelMA product, several parameters were evaluated, including the degree of methacryloylation, secondary structure, and enzymatic degradation, along with the mechanical properties and cell viability of GelMA hydrogels. The results showed that two types of target GelMA with five batches exhibited a high degree of controllability and reproducibility in compositional, structural, and functional properties owing to the highly controllable one-pot strategy.
Project description:Biomaterials currently used in cardiac tissue engineering have certain limitations, such as lack of electrical conductivity and appropriate mechanical properties, which are two parameters playing a key role in regulating cardiac cell behavior. Here, the myocardial tissue constructs are engineered based on reduced graphene oxide (rGO)-incorporated gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hybrid hydrogels. The incorporation of rGO into the GelMA matrix significantly enhances the electrical conductivity and mechanical properties of the material. Moreover, cells cultured on composite rGO-GelMA scaffolds exhibit better biological activities such as cell viability, proliferation, and maturation compared to ones cultured on GelMA hydrogels. Cardiomyocytes show stronger contractility and faster spontaneous beating rate on rGO-GelMA hydrogel sheets compared to those on pristine GelMA hydrogels, as well as GO-GelMA hydrogel sheets with similar mechanical property and particle concentration. Our strategy of integrating rGO within a biocompatible hydrogel is expected to be broadly applicable for future biomaterial designs to improve tissue engineering outcomes. The engineered cardiac tissue constructs using rGO incorporated hybrid hydrogels can potentially provide high-fidelity tissue models for drug studies and the investigations of cardiac tissue development and/or disease processes in vitro.
Project description:Decellularized tissues have proven to be versatile matrices for the engineering of tissues and organs. These matrices usually consist of collagens, matrix-specific proteins, and a set of largely undefined growth factors and signaling molecules. Although several decellularized tissues have found their way to clinical applications, their use in the engineering of cartilage tissue has only been explored to a limited extent. We set out to generate hydrogels from several tissue-derived matrices, as hydrogels are the current preferred cell carriers for cartilage repair. Equine cartilage, meniscus, and tendon tissue was harvested, decellularized, enzymatically digested, and functionalized with methacrylamide groups. After photo-cross-linking, these tissue digests were mechanically characterized. Next, gelatin methacrylamide (GelMA) hydrogel was functionalized with these methacrylated tissue digests. Equine chondrocytes and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) (both from three donors) were encapsulated and cultured in vitro up to 6 weeks. Gene expression (COL1A1, COL2A1, ACAN, MMP-3, MMP-13, and MMP-14), cartilage-specific matrix formation, and hydrogel stiffness were analyzed after culture. The cartilage, meniscus, and tendon digests were successfully photo-cross-linked into hydrogels. The addition of the tissue-derived matrices to GelMA affected chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs, although no consequent improvement was demonstrated. For chondrocytes, the tissue-derived matrix gels performed worse compared to GelMA alone. This work demonstrates for the first time that native tissues can be processed into crosslinkable hydrogels for the engineering of tissues. Moreover, the differentiation of encapsulated cells can be influenced in these stable, decellularized matrix hydrogels.
Project description:Considering the potential of hydrogels to mimic the cellular microenvironment, methacryloyl gelatin (GelMA) and methacryloyl mucin (MuMA) were selected and compared as bioinspired coatings for commercially available polypropylene (PP) meshes for ventral hernia repair. Thin, elastic hydrated hydrogel layers were obtained through network-forming photo-polymerization, after immobilization of derivatives on the surface of the PP fibers. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) proved the successful coating while the surface morphology and homogeneity were investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). The stability of the hydrogel layers was evaluated through biodynamic tests performed on the coated meshes for seven days, followed by inspection of surface morphology through SEM and micro-CT. Taking into account that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) may improve healing due to its high concentration of growth factors, this extract was used as pre-treatment for the hydrogel coating to additionally stimulate cell interactions. The performed advanced characterization proved that GelMA and MuMA coatings can modulate fibroblasts response on PP meshes, either as such or supplemented with PRP extract as a blood-derived bioactivator. GelMA supported the best cellular response. These findings may extend the applicative potential of functionalized gelatin opening a new path on the research and engineering of a new generation of bioactive meshes.
Project description:We engineered functional cardiac patches by seeding neonatal rat cardiomyocytes onto carbon nanotube (CNT)-incorporated photo-cross-linkable gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) hydrogels. The resulting cardiac constructs showed excellent mechanical integrity and advanced electrophysiological functions. Specifically, myocardial tissues cultured on 50 ?m thick CNT-GelMA showed 3 times higher spontaneous synchronous beating rates and 85% lower excitation threshold, compared to those cultured on pristine GelMA hydrogels. Our results indicate that the electrically conductive and nanofibrous networks formed by CNTs within a porous gelatin framework are the key characteristics of CNT-GelMA leading to improved cardiac cell adhesion, organization, and cell-cell coupling. Centimeter-scale patches were released from glass substrates to form 3D biohybrid actuators, which showed controllable linear cyclic contraction/extension, pumping, and swimming actuations. In addition, we demonstrate for the first time that cardiac tissues cultured on CNT-GelMA resist damage by a model cardiac inhibitor as well as a cytotoxic compound. Therefore, incorporation of CNTs into gelatin, and potentially other biomaterials, could be useful in creating multifunctional cardiac scaffolds for both therapeutic purposes and in vitro studies. These hybrid materials could also be used for neuron and other muscle cells to create tissue constructs with improved organization, electroactivity, and mechanical integrity.