This study develops a novel strategy for regenerative therapy of musculoskeletal soft tissue defects using a dual-phase multifunctional injectable gelatin-hydroxyphenyl propionic acid (Gtn-HPA) composite. The dual-phase gel consists of stiff, degradation-resistant, ≈2-mm diameter spherical beads made from 8 wt% Gtn-HPA in a 2 wt% Gtn-HPA matrix. The results of a 3D migration assay show that both the cell number and migration distance in the dual-phase gel system are comparable with the 2 wt% mono-phase Gtn-HPA, but notably significantly higher than for 8 wt% mono-phase Gtn-HPA (into which few cells migrated). The results also show that the dual phase gel system has degradation resistance and a prolonged growth factor release profile comparable with 8 wt% mono-phase Gtn-HPA. In addition, the compressive modulus of the 2 wt% dual-phase gel system incorporating the 8 wt% bead phase is nearly four-fold higher than the 2 wt% mono-phase gel (5.3 ± 0.4 kPa versus 1.5 ± 0.06 kPa). This novel injectable dual-phase Gtn-HPA composite thus combines the advantages of low-concentration Gtn-HPA (cell migration) with high-concentration Gtn-HPA (stiffness, degradation resistance, slower chemical release kinetics) to facilitate effective reparative/regenerative processes in musculoskeletal soft tissue.
Keywords: hydrogels; injectable biomaterials; mesenchymal stem cell; migration; platelet-derived growth factors.
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