Controlling hydrogelation kinetics by peptide design for three-dimensional encapsulation and injectable delivery of cells

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 May 8;104(19):7791-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0701980104. Epub 2007 Apr 30.


A peptide-based hydrogelation strategy has been developed that allows homogenous encapsulation and subsequent delivery of C3H10t1/2 mesenchymal stem cells. Structure-based peptide design afforded MAX8, a 20-residue peptide that folds and self-assembles in response to DMEM resulting in mechanically rigid hydrogels. The folding and self-assembly kinetics of MAX8 have been tuned so that when hydrogelation is triggered in the presence of cells, the cells become homogeneously impregnated within the gel. A unique characteristic of these gel-cell constructs is that when an appropriate shear stress is applied, the hydrogel will shear-thin resulting in a low-viscosity gel. However, after the application of shear has stopped, the gel quickly resets and recovers its initial mechanical rigidity in a near quantitative fashion. This property allows gel/cell constructs to be delivered via syringe with precision to target sites. Homogenous cellular distribution and cell viability are unaffected by the shear thinning process and gel/cell constructs stay fixed at the point of introduction, suggesting that these gels may be useful for the delivery of cells to target biological sites in tissue regeneration efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Kinetics
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Static Electricity


  • Hydrogels
  • Peptides