Cryogels made of components of natural extracellular matrix components are potent biomaterials for bioengineering and regenerative medicine. Human dermal fibroblasts are key cells for tissue replacement during wound healing. Thus, any biomaterial for wound healing applications should enable growth, differentiation and matrix synthesis by these cells. Cryogels are highly porous scaffolds consisting of a network of interconnected pores. Here, we used a novel group of cryogels generated from acrylated hyaluronan where the polymerization was initiated by accelerated electrons (E-beam). This novel procedure omits any toxic polymerization initiators and results in sterile, highly elastic scaffolds with adjustable pore size, excellent swelling and low flow resistance properties. We show that these cryogels are effective 3D-substrates for long-term cultures of human dermal fibroblasts in vitro. The cells proliferate for at least 28days throughout the cryogels and deposit their own matrix in the pores. Moreover, key modulators of dermal fibroblasts during wound healing like TGFβ and PDGF efficiently stimulated the expression of wound healing-relevant genes. In conclusion, electron beam initiated cryogels of acrylated hyaluronan represent a functional and cell compatible biomaterial that could be adapted for special wound healing applications by further functionalization.
Keywords: Electron-beam cryogels; Fibroblast; Gene expression; Hyaluronan acrylate; Matrix synthesis; Proliferation.
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