Tissue engineering-based approaches have the potential to improve stem cell engraftment by increasing cell delivery to the myocardium. Our objective was to develop and characterize a naturally-derived, autologous, biodegradable hydrogel in order to improve acute stem cell retention in the myocardium. HA-blood hydrogels (HA-BL) were synthesized by mixing in a 1:1(v/v) ratio, lysed whole blood and hyaluronic acid (HA), whose carboxyl groups were functionalized with N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) to yield HA succinimidyl succinate (HA-NHS). We performed physical characterization and measured survival/proliferation of cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs) encapsulated in the hydrogels. Hydrogels were injected intra-myocardially or applied epicardially in rats. NHS-activated carboxyl groups in HA react with primary amines present in blood and myocardium to form amide bonds, resulting in a 3D hydrogel bound to tissue. HA-blood hydrogels had a gelation time of 58±12 s, swelling ratio of 10±0.5, compressive and elastic modulus of 14±3 and 1.75±0.6 kPa respectively. These hydrogels were not degraded at 4 wks by hydrolysis alone. CDC encapsulation promoted their survival and proliferation. Intra-myocardial injection of CDCs encapsulated in these hydrogels greatly increased acute myocardial retention (p=0.001). Epicardial application of HA-blood hydrogels improved left ventricular ejection fraction following myocardial infarction (p=0.01). HA-blood hydrogels are highly adhesive, biodegradable, promote CDC survival and increase cardiac function following epicardial application after myocardial infarction.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.