Albumin is an attractive component for the development of biomaterials applied as biomedical implants, including drug carriers and tissue engineering scaffolds, because of its high biocompatibility and low immunogenicity. Additionally, albumin-based gelators facilitate cross-linking reactions under mild conditions, which maintains the high viability of encapsulated living cells. In this study, we synthesized albumin derivatives to undergo gelation under physiological conditions via the peroxidase-catalyzed formation of cross-links. Albumin was modified with phenolic hydroxyl groups (Alb-Ph-OH) using carbodiimide chemistry, and the effect of degree of substitution on gelation was investigated. Various properties of the Alb-Ph-OH hydrogels, namely the gelation time, swelling ratio, pore size, storage modulus, and enzymatic degradability, were easily controlled by adjusting the degree of substitution and the polymer concentration. Moreover, the viability of cells encapsulated within the Alb-Ph-OH hydrogel was high. These results demonstrate the potential applicability of Alb-Ph-OH hydrogels as cell-encapsulating materials for biomedical applications, including tissue engineering.
Keywords: Albumin; Cell encapsulation; Enzymatic cross-linking; Hydrogel; Tissue engineering scaffold.
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