Thermal gelation and tissue adhesion of biomimetic hydrogels

SA Burke, M Ritter-Jones, BP Lee, PB Messersmith
September 24, 2007
Biomedical Materials 2 (4), 203, 2007

Marine and freshwater mussels are notorious foulers of natural and manmade surfaces, secreting specialized protein adhesives for rapid and durable attachment to wet substrates. Given the strong and water-resistant nature of mussel adhesive proteins, significant potential exists for mimicking their adhesive characteristics in bioinspired synthetic polymer materials. An important component of these proteins is L-3,4-dihydroxylphenylalanine (DOPA), an amino acid believed to contribute to mussel glue solidification through oxidation and crosslinking reactions. Synthetic polymers containing DOPA residues have previously been shown to crosslink into hydrogels upon the introduction of oxidizing reagents. Here we introduce a strategy for stimuli responsive gel formation of mussel adhesive protein mimetic polymers. Lipid vesicles with a bilayer melting transition of 37 °C were designed from a mixture of dipalmitoyl and dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholines and exploited for the release of a sequestered oxidizing reagent upon heating from ambient to physiologic temperature. Colorimetric studies indicated that sodium-periodate-loaded liposomes released their cargo at the phase transition temperature, and when used in conjunction with a DOPA-functionalized poly(ethylene glycol) polymer gave rise to rapid solidification of a crosslinked polymer hydrogel. The tissue adhesive properties of this biomimetic system were determined by in situ thermal gelation of liposome/polymer hydrogel between two porcine dermal tissue surfaces. Bond strength measurements showed that the bond formed by the adhesive hydrogel (mean = 35.1 kPa, SD = 12.5 kPa, n = 11) was several times stronger than a fibrin glue control tested under the same conditions. The results suggest a possible use of this biomimetic strategy for repair of soft tissues.

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