Research ArticleBIOMATERIALS

An engineered cell-laden adhesive hydrogel promotes craniofacial bone tissue regeneration in rats

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Science Translational Medicine  11 Mar 2020:
Vol. 12, Issue 534, eaay6853
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aay6853

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Building bone with a helpful hydrogel

From a materials’ perspective, bone regeneration in craniofacial defects can be challenging, particularly considering the aqueous environment of the oral cavity. Hasani-Sadrabadi and colleagues developed an injectable alginate-based adhesive hydrogel that encapsulated aggregates of gingival mesenchymal stem cells and osteoconductive hydroxyapatite microparticles. In a rat model of peri-implantitis, the hydrogel promoted bone regeneration around dental implants. The hydrogel’s biodegradation and mechanical properties could be tuned, suggesting it could be a useful tool for tissue engineering.


Cell-laden hydrogels are widely used in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. However, many of these hydrogels are not optimized for use in the oral environment, where they are exposed to blood and saliva. To address these challenges, we engineered an alginate-based adhesive, photocrosslinkable, and osteoconductive hydrogel biomaterial (AdhHG) with tunable mechanical properties. The engineered hydrogel was used as an injectable mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) delivery vehicle for craniofacial bone tissue engineering applications. Subcutaneous implantation in mice confirmed the biodegradability, biocompatibility, and osteoconductivity of the hydrogel. In a well-established rat peri-implantitis model, application of the adhesive hydrogel encapsulating gingival mesenchymal stem cells (GMSCs) resulted in complete bone regeneration around ailing dental implants with peri-implant bone loss. Together, we have developed a distinct bioinspired adhesive hydrogel with tunable mechanical properties and biodegradability that effectively delivers patient-derived dental-derived MSCs. The hydrogel is photocrosslinkable and, due to the presence of MSC aggregates and hydroxyapatite microparticles, promotes bone regeneration for craniofacial tissue engineering applications.

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