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Chondrogenic potential of macroporous biodegradable cryogels based on synthetic poly(alpha-amino acids)

Sedlacik, T.
Acar, O. K.
Studenovska, H.
Kotelnikov, I.
Kucka, J.
Konecna, Z.
Zikmund, T.
Kaiser, J.
Rypacek, F.
In this study, the potential of highly porous hydrogels based on biodegradable synthetic poly(alpha-amino acids) to support proliferation and chondrogenesis of human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) was investigated. Covalently crosslinked gels with permanent pores were formed under cryogenic conditions by free-radical copolymerization of poly[N-5-(2-hydroxyethyl)-L-glutamine-stat-N-5-(2-methacryloyl-oxy-ethyl)- L-glutamine] (PHEG-MA) with 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) and N-propargyl methacrylamide (PrMAAm) as minor co-monomers. PrMAAm provided alkyne groups for modifying the gels with cell-supporting moieties (RGDS peptides) by the azide-alkyne "click"-reaction. Two types of gels with different compressive moduli were prepared. Each type was modified with two different concentrations of RGDS peptide. X-ray computed nanotomography (nanoCT) was used to visualize and analyze the 3D-structure of the cryogels. It was shown that modifying the PHEG-MA cryogels within the range of RGDS concentrations examined here had a positive effect on the proliferation of hDPSCs. Immunofluorescence staining for collagen type 2 and aggrecan proved that there was differentiation of hDPSCs into chondrocytes.