Hydrogels are highly preferred in soft tissue engineering because they recapitulate the hydrated extracellular matrix. Naturally derived polysaccharides, like pullulan and dextran, are attractive materials with which to form hydrophilic polymeric networks due to their non-immunogenic and non-antigenic properties. However, their inherent hydrophilicity prevents adherent cell growth. In this study, we modified pullulan-dextran scaffolds with interfacial polyelectrolyte complexation (IPC) fibers to improve their ability to support adherent cell growth. We showed that the pullulan-dextran-IPC fiber composite scaffold laden with extracellular matrix protein has improved cell adhesion and proliferation compared to the plain polysaccharide scaffold. We also demonstrated the zero-order release kinetics of the biologics bovine serum albumin and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) incorporated in the composite scaffold. Lastly, we showed that the VEGF released from the composite scaffold retained its capacity to stimulate endothelial cell growth. The incorporation of IPC fibers in the pullulan-dextran hydrogel scaffold improved its functionality and biological activity, thus enhancing its potential in tissue engineering applications.
Keywords: Chemical cross linking; Hybrid scaffold; Hydrogel.
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