Bioactivated gellan gum hydrogels affect cellular rearrangement and cell response in vascular co-culture and subcutaneous implant models

Christine Gering, Jenny Parraga Meneses, Hanna Vuorenpää, Lucía Botero, Susanna Miettinen, Minna Kellomäki

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    Hydrogels are suitable soft tissue mimics and capable of creating pre-vascularized tissues, that are useful for in vitro tissue engineering and in vivo regenerative medicine. The polysaccharide gellan gum (GG) offers an intriguing matrix material but requires bioactivation in order to support cell attachment and transfer of biomechanical cues. Here, four versatile modifications were investigated: Purified NaGG; avidin-modified NaGG combined with biotinylated fibronectin (NaGG-avd); oxidized GG (GGox) covalently modified with carbohydrazide-modified gelatin (gelaCDH) or adipic hydrazide-modified gelatin (gelaADH). All materials were subjected to rheological analysis to assess their viscoelastic properties, using a time sweep for gelation analysis, and subsequent amplitude sweep of the formed hydrogels. The sweeps show that NaGG and NaGG-avd are rather brittle, while gelatin-based hydrogels are more elastic. The degradation of preformed hydrogels in cell culture medium was analyzed with an amplitude sweep and show that gelatin-containing hydrogels degrade more dramatically. A co-culture of GFP-tagged HUVEC and hASC was performed to induce vascular network formation in 3D for up to 14 days. Immunofluorescence staining of the αSMA+ network showed increased cell response to gelatin-GG networks, while the NaGG-based hydrogels did not allow for the elongation of cells. Preformed, 3D hydrogels disks were implanted to subcutaneous rat skin pockets to evaluate biological in vivo response. As visible from the hematoxylin and eosin-stained tissue slices, all materials are biocompatible, however gelatin-GG hydrogels produced a stronger host response. This work indicates, that besides the biochemical cues added to the GG hydrogels, also their viscoelasticity greatly influences the biological response.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number213185
    Number of pages11
    JournalBiomaterials Advances
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2022
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • vascularization
    • HUVEC and hASC co-culture
    • gellan gum hydrogels
    • biofunctionalization
    • mechanical and viscoelastic properties

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