Although mechanical loads are integral for musculoskeletal tissue homeostasis, overloading and traumatic events can result in tissue injury. Conventional drug delivery approaches for musculoskeletal tissue repair employ localized drug injections. However, rapid drug clearance and inadequate synchronization of molecule provision with healing progression render these methods ineffective. To overcome this, a programmable mechanoresponsive drug delivery system was developed that utilizes the mechanical environment of the tissue during rehabilitation (for example, during cartilage repair) to trigger biomolecule provision. For this, a suite of mechanically-activated microcapsules (MAMCs) with different rupture profiles was generated in a single fabrication batch via osmotic annealing of double emulsions. MAMC physical dimensions were found to dictate mechano-activation in 2D and 3D environments and their stability in vitro and in vivo, demonstrating the tunability of this system. In models of cartilage regeneration, MAMCs did not interfere with tissue growth and activated depending on the mechanical properties of the regenerating tissue. Finally, biologically active anti-inflammatory agents were encapsulated and released from MAMCs, which counteracted degradative cues and prevented the loss of matrix in living tissue environments. This unique technology has tremendous potential for implementation across a wide array of musculoskeletal conditions for enhanced repair of load-bearing tissues.
Keywords: Cartilage; Drug delivery; Mechanical loading; Musculoskeletal tissues; Tissue regeneration.
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