Biomaterial-based cell replacement approaches to regenerative medicine are emerging as promising treatments for a wide array of profound clinical problems. Here we report an interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) composed of gelatin-hydroxyphenyl propionic acid and hyaluronic acid tyramine that is able to enhance intravitreal retinal cell therapy. By tuning our bioinspired hydrogel to mimic the vitreous chemical composition and mechanical characteristics we were able to improve in vitro and in vivo viability of human retinal ganglion cells (hRGC) incorporated into the IPN. In vivo vitreal injections of cell-bearing IPN in rats showed extensive attachment to the inner limiting membrane of the retina, improving with hydrogels stiffness. Engrafted hRGC displayed signs of regenerating processes along the optic nerve. Of note was the decrease in the immune cell response to hRGC delivered in the gel. The findings compel further translation of the gelatin-hyaluronic acid IPN for intravitreal cell therapy.
© 2021. The Author(s).