Hydrazone crosslinked hyaluronan-based hydrogels for therapeutic delivery of adipose stem cells to treat corneal defects

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    Corneal blindness is a worldwide problem, plagued by insufficient amount of high-quality donor tissue. Cell therapy using human adipose stem cells (hASCs) has risen as an alternative to regenerate damaged corneal stromal tissue, the main structural and refractive layer of the cornea. Herein we propose a method to deliver hASCs into corneal defects in hyaluronan (HA)-based hydrogels, which form rapidly in situ by hydrazone crosslinking. We fabricated two different HA-based hydrazone-crosslinked hydrogels (HALD1-HACDH and HALD2-HAADH), and characterized their swelling, degradation, mechanical, rheological and optical properties and their ability to support hASC survival. To promote hASC attachment and survival, we incorporated collagen I (col I) to the more stable HALD1-HACDH hydrogel, since the HALD2-HAADH hydrogel suffered swift degradation in culture conditions. We then used an organ culture model with excised porcine corneas to study the delivery of hASCs in these three hydrogels for stromal defect repair. Although all hydrogels showed good hASC survival directly after encapsulation, only the collagen-containing HALD1-HACDH-col I hydrogel showed cells with elongated morphology, and significantly higher cell metabolic activity than the HALD1-HACDH gel. The addition of col I also increased the stiffness and reduced the swelling ratio of the resulting hydrogel. Most importantly, the corneal organ culture model demonstrated these hydrogels as clinically feasible cell delivery vehicles to corneal defects, allowing efficient hASC integration to the corneal stroma and overgrowth of corneal epithelial cells.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)68-78
    Number of pages11
    JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Adipose stem cells
    • Cell delivery
    • Collagen I
    • Corneal stroma
    • Hyaluronan
    • Hydrogel

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    • Publication forum level 1


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