Collagen-low molecular weight hyaluronic acid semi-interpenetrating network loaded with gelatin microspheres for cell and growth factor delivery for nucleus pulposus regeneration

Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is one of the main causes of low back pain. Current surgical treatments are complex and generally do not fully restore spine mobility. Development of injectable extracellular matrix-based hydrogels offers an opportunity for minimally invasive treatment of IVD degeneration. Here we analyze a specific formulation of collagen-low molecular weight hyaluronic acid (LMW HA) semi-interpenetrating network (semi-IPN) loaded with gelatin microspheres as a potential material for tissue engineering of the inner part of the IVD, the nucleus pulposus (NP). The material displayed a gel-like behavior, it was easily injectable as demonstrated by suitable tests and did not induce cytotoxicity or inflammation. Importantly, it supported the growth and chondrogenic differentiation potential of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and nasal chondrocytes (NC) in vitro and in vivo. These properties of the hydrogel were successfully combined with TGF-²3 delivery by gelatin microspheres, which promoted the chondrogenic phenotype. Altogether, collagen-LMW HA loaded with gelatin microspheres represents a good candidate material for NP tissue engineering as it combines important rheological, functional and biological features.

R Tsaryka, A Gloria, T Russo, L Anspach, R De Santis, S Ghanaati, R E Unger, L Ambrosio, C J Kirkpatricka: Acta Biomaterialia, Vol 20, 1 July 2015, Pages 10-21