Hydrogels based on gelatin have evolved as promising multifunctional biomaterials. Gelatin is crosslinked with lysine diisocyanate ethyl ester (LDI) and the molar ratio of gelatin and LDI in the starting material mixture determines elastic properties of the resulting hydrogel. In order to investigate the clinical potential of these biopolymers, hydrogels with different ratios of gelatin and diisocyanate (3-fold (G10_LNCO3) and 8-fold (G10_LNCO8) molar excess of isocyanate groups) were subcutaneously implanted in mice (uni- or bilateral implantation). Degradation and biomaterial-tissue-interaction were investigated in vivo (MRI, optical imaging, PET) and ex vivo (autoradiography, histology, serum analysis). Multimodal imaging revealed that the number of covalent net points correlates well with degradation time, which allows for targeted modification of hydrogels based on properties of the tissue to be replaced. Importantly, the degradation time was also dependent on the number of implants per animal. Despite local mechanisms of tissue remodeling no adverse tissue responses could be observed neither locally nor systemically. Finally, this preclinical investigation in immunocompetent mice clearly demonstrated a complete restoration of the original healthy tissue.
Keywords: Autoradiography ex vivo; Biomaterials; Computed tomography; Magnetic resonance imaging; Optical imaging; Positron emission tomography..