Resilin-PEG Hybrid Hydrogels Yield Degradable Elastomeric Scaffolds with Heterogeneous Microstructure

TitleResilin-PEG Hybrid Hydrogels Yield Degradable Elastomeric Scaffolds with Heterogeneous Microstructure
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMcGann, C. L., Akins R. E., & Kiick K. L.
Date Published2016 Jan 11

Hydrogels derived from resilin-like polypeptides (RLPs) have shown outstanding mechanical resilience and cytocompatibility; expanding the versatility of RLP-based materials via conjugation with other polypeptides and polymers would offer great promise in the design of a range of materials. Here, we present an investigation of the biochemical and mechanical properties of hybrid hydrogels composed of a recombinant RLP and a multiarm PEG macromer. These hybrid hydrogels can be rapidly cross-linked through a Michael-type addition reaction between the thiols of cysteine residues on the RLP and vinyl sulfone groups on the multiarm PEG. Oscillatory rheology and tensile testing confirmed the formation of elastomeric hydrogels with mechanical resilience comparable to aortic elastin; hydrogel stiffness was easily modulated through the cross-linking ratio. Macromolecular phase separation of the RLP-PEG hydrogels offers the unique advantage of imparting a heterogeneous microstructure, which can be used to localize cells, through simple mixing and cross-linking. Assessment of degradation of the RLP by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) illustrated the specific proteolysis of the polypeptide in both its soluble form and when cross-linked into hydrogels. Finally, the successful encapsulation and viable three-dimensional culture of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) demonstrated the cytocompatibility of the RLP-PEG gels. Overall, the cytocompatibility, elastomeric mechanical properties, microheterogeneity, and degradability of the RLP-PEG hybrid hydrogels offer a suite of promising properties for the development of cell-instructive, structured tissue engineering scaffolds.

Alternate JournalBiomacromolecules
Refereed DesignationRefereed