Alginate is a commonly used biomedical hydrogel whose in vivo degradation behavior is only beginning to be understood. The use of alginate in the central nervous system is gaining popularity as an electrode coating, cell encapsulation matrix, and for duraplasty. However, it is necessary to understand how the hydrogel will behave in vivo to aid in the development of alginate for use as a neural interface material. The goal of the current study was to compare the rheological behavior of explanted alginate disks and the inflammatory response to subcutaneously implanted alginate hydrogels over a 3-month period. Specifically, the effects due to (1) in situ gelling, (2) diffusion gelling, and (3) use of a poly-l-lysine (PLL) coating were investigated. While all samples' complex moduli decreased 80% in the first day, in situ gelled alginate was more stable for the first week of implantation. The PLL coating offered some stability increases for diffusion gelled alginate, but the stability in both conditions remained significantly lower than that in in situ gelled alginate. There were no differences in biocompatibility that clearly suggested one gelation method over another. These results indicate that in situ gelation is the preferred method in neural interface applications where stability is the primary concern.
(c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res 2007.