A photopolymerizing hydrogel system provides an efficient method to encapsulate cells. The present work describes the in vitro analysis of bovine and ovine chondrocytes encapsulated in a poly(ethylene oxide)-dimethacrylate and poly(ethylene glycol) semi-interpenetrating network using a photopolymerization process. One day after encapsulation, (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-y1]-2, 5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide) (MTT) and light microscopy showed chondrocyte survival and a dispersed cell population composed of ovoid and elongated cells. Biochemical analysis demonstrated proteoglycan and collagen contents that increased over 2 weeks of static incubation. Cell content of the gels initially decreased and stabilized. Biomechanical analysis demonstrated the presence of a functional extracellular matrix with equilibrium moduli, dynamic stiffness, and streaming potentials that increased with time. These findings suggest the feasibility of photoencapsulation for tissue engineering and drug delivery purposes.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.