Author: Hao, Jie
Title: A gelatin/hyaluronic acid-based injectable mechanically enhanced hydrogel for cartilage defect repair
Advisors: Wen, Chunyi (BME)
Wong, Siu Hong Dexter (BME)
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2024
Subject: Cartilage -- Wounds and injuries -- Treatment
Cartilage -- Regeneration
Tissue engineering
Colloids in medicine
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Biomedical Engineering
Pages: xiv, 72 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that is a significant contributor to disability, especially in the aging population. Patients with OA suffer from progressive cartilage and osteochondral defects (OCD), with pain and dysfunction as the disease progresses. Although existing clinical treatments focus on pain relief and restoration of joint function, the lack of effective cartilage repair techniques remains a prominent gap. Recently, the combination of biomaterials and tissue engineering has attracted much attention as an innovative modality to address current clinical challenges. Hydrogel, as a typical biomaterial, has shown significant advantages and great promise in the field of tissue engineering, especially in cartilage defect repair. This study utilized gelatin and hyaluronic acid as the basic components of hydrogels to perform simulations of cartilage components. We identified a general dilemma with gelatin and hyaluronic acid hydrogels by conducting a literature review, characterized by an apparent contradiction between injectability and mechanical properties. Therefore, the objective of this study is to formulate an injectable hydrogel with relatively good mechanical properties and favor cartilage regeneration.
The subsequent research trajectory was established through delineated objectives. Initially, material modification was undertaken, and the success of these modifications was ascertained through nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrogram and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Subsequently, hydrogels with varying ratios were formulated, and their micro- and macro-morphological characteristics were observed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and swelling rate testing. The injectability of these hydrogels was then validated. Mechanical properties, including compression, nanoindentation, and rheological characteristics, were subsequently determined. Necessary properties such as gelation time, degradation, and self-healing capabilities were assessed. Finally, the investigation encompassed the examination of the biological properties of the hydrogels, evaluating cellular activity, cell-gel interactions, and chondrogenic effects.
The experimental findings indicated that the designed hydrogel exhibited favorable performance. NMR results confirmed the successful modification of the raw materials. SEM analysis revealed the hydrogel's uniform pore structure, with diameters ranging from 20 to 30 micrometers. The hydrogel was demonstrated to be injectable using both dual-barrel and mixing syringes, effectively filling defects. Mechanical testing demonstrated superior performance with Young's modulus ranging from 13 to 30 kPa compared to peer materials. Results from biological assessments affirmed the hydrogel's excellent biocompatibility, facilitating cell adhesion and, when laden with drugs, promoting stem cell differentiation toward chondrogenesis.
In summary, this study successfully engineered an injectable hydrogel with mechanical properties surpassing industry standards, and it demonstrated excellent in vitro chondrogenic effects. Particularly notable was the hydrogel composition with a 20:10 ratio, exhibiting superior physico-biological attributes compared to other hydrogel formulations. Consequently, this research offers insights into addressing the conflict between injectability and mechanical performance in the field of materials science, holding potential applications in tissue engineering and clinical scenarios for the filling and regeneration of deficient cartilage.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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