Bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) is a potent inducer of bone formation that is currently used in a limited number of clinical indications to treat extensive bone loss. Extending the field of applications of this molecule requires design of the delivery system to protect the protein from early degradation and allow a slow long-term release. This study describes the use of a non-polymer hydrogel, based on the self-assembly of small amphiphilic glycosyl-nucleolipids into micellar structures, as a new type of delivery system for BMP-2. BMP-2 was readily encapsulated in glycosyl-nucleosyl-fluorinated (GNF)-based gels and slowly released in vitro, while maintaining its osteogenic activity. When hydrogel pieces containing fluorophore-tagged BMP-2 were deposited onto a calvaria defect in mouse, the signal detected in living mice gradually decreased and was still detectable at 3 weeks. Gel-embedded protein promoted significant calvarial bone defect regeneration at 8 weeks after surgery. In contrast, when a solution of BMP-2 without hydrogel was injected into the defects, the fluorescence signal decreased rapidly and no significant bone formation was observed. The unique property of the GNF-based hydrogel as an injectable delivery system for low doses of BMP-2 was revealed in a subcutaneous model of ectopic bone formation. Injected BMP-2-laden GNF hydrogel blocks elicited the formation of cancellous bone, showing all the typical features of remodeling bone that contains bone marrow. These results show that this GNF-based hydrogel is an easy-to-use, efficient delivery system for BMP-2 and osteogenic material to support bone regeneration.
Keywords: BMP-2 delivery; Bone; Hydrogel; Mouse; Osteogenic material; Osteoinductive.