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Secondary Photocrosslinking of Injectable Shear-Thinning Dock-and-Lock Hydrogels

Authors

  • Hoang D. Lu,

    1. Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 240 Skirkanich Hall, 210 S. 33rd St, Philadelphia PA, 19104, USA
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  • Danielle E. Soranno,

    1. Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 240 Skirkanich Hall, 210 S. 33rd St, Philadelphia PA, 19104, USA
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  • Christopher B. Rodell,

    1. Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 240 Skirkanich Hall, 210 S. 33rd St, Philadelphia PA, 19104, USA
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  • Iris L. Kim,

    1. Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 240 Skirkanich Hall, 210 S. 33rd St, Philadelphia PA, 19104, USA
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  • Jason A. Burdick

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 240 Skirkanich Hall, 210 S. 33rd St, Philadelphia PA, 19104, USA
    • Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 240 Skirkanich Hall, 210 S. 33rd St, Philadelphia PA, 19104, USA.
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Abstract

Shear-thinning hydrogels are useful in numerous applications, including as injectable carriers that act as scaffolds to support cell and drug therapies. Here, we describe the engineering of a self-assembling Dock-and-Lock (DnL) system that forms injectable shear-thinning hydrogels using molecular recognition interactions that also possess photo-triggerable secondary crosslinks. These DnL hydrogels are fabricated from peptide-modified hyaluronic acid (HA) and polypeptide precursors, can self-heal immediately after shear induced flow, are cytocompatible, and can be stabilized through light-initiated radical polymerization of methacrylate functional groups to tune gel mechanics and erosion kinetics. Secondary crosslinked hydrogels retain self-adhesive properties and exhibit cooperative physical and chemical crosslinks with moduli as high as ∼10 times larger than moduli of gels based on physical crosslinking alone. The extent of reaction and change in properties are dependent on whether the methacrylate is incorporated either at the terminus of the peptide or directly to the HA backbone. Additionally, the gel erosion can be monitored through an incorporated fluorophore and physical–chemical gels remain intact in solution over months, whereas physical gels that are not covalently crosslinked erode completely within days. Mesenchymal stem cells exhibit increased viability when cultured in physical– chemical gels, compared with those cultured in gels based on physical crosslinks alone. The physical properties of these DnL gels may be additionally tuned by adjusting component compositions, which allows DnL gels with a wide range of physical properties to be constructed for use.

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