Sustained localized presentation of RNA interfering molecules from in situ forming hydrogels to guide stem cell osteogenic differentiation

Biomaterials. 2014 Aug;35(24):6278-6286. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.04.048. Epub 2014 May 13.


To date, RNA interfering molecules have been used to differentiate stem cells on two-dimensional (2D) substrates that do not mimic three-dimensional (3D) microenvironments in the body. Here, in situ forming poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels were engineered for controlled, localized and sustained delivery of RNA interfering molecules to differentiate stem cells encapsulated within the 3D polymer network. RNA interfering molecules were released from the hydrogels in a sustained and controlled manner over the course of 3-6 weeks, and exhibited high bioactivity. Importantly, it was demonstrated that the delivery of siRNA and/or miRNA from the hydrogel constructs enhanced the osteogenic differentiation of encapsulated stem cells. Prolonged delivery of siRNA and/or miRNA from this polymeric scaffold permitted extended regulation of cell behavior, unlike traditional siRNA experiments performed in vitro. This approach presents a powerful new methodology for controlling cell fate, and is promising for multiple applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Keywords: Biomaterials; Bone regeneration; Gene delivery; Mesenchymal stem cells; Tissue engineering.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemical synthesis
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Kinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Osteogenesis*
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Rheology
  • Time Factors


  • Hydrogels
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Calcium