Self-assembling peptide hydrogel enables instant epicardial coating of the heart with mesenchymal stromal cells for the treatment of heart failure

Biomaterials. 2018 Feb;154:12-23. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.10.050. Epub 2017 Oct 31.


Transplantation of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) is an emerging therapy for the treatment of heart failure. However, the delivery method of MSC is currently suboptimal. The use of self-assembling peptide hydrogels, including PuraMatrix® (PM; 3-D Matrix, Ltd), has been reported for clinical hemostasis and in research models. This study demonstrates the feasibility and efficacy of an advanced approach for MSC-therapy, that is coating of the epicardium with the instantly-produced PM hydrogel incorporating MSCs (epicardial PM-MSC therapy). We optimized the conditions/procedure to produce "instant" 2PM-MSC complexes. After spreading on the epicardium by easy pipetting, the PM-MSC complex promptly and stably adhere to the beating heart. Of note, this treatment achieved more extensive improvement of cardiac function, with greater initial retention and survival of donor MSCs, compared to intramyocardial MSC injection in rat heart failure models. This enhanced efficacy was underpinned by amplified myocardial upregulation of a group of tissue repair-related genes, which led to enhanced repair of the damaged myocardium, i.e. augmented microvascular formation and reduced interstitial fibrosis. These data suggest a potential for epicardial PM-MSC therapy to be a widely-adopted treatment of heart failure. This approach may also be useful for treating diseases in other organs than the heart.

Keywords: Bioengineering; Cell transplantation therapy; Heart failure; Mesenchymal stromal cell; Self-assembling peptide hydrogel.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Heart Function Tests
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate / pharmacology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy
  • Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Pericardium / metabolism*
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Peptides
  • RADA16-I
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate