Acta biomaterialia

Cytocompatible in situ forming chitosan/hyaluronan hydrogels via a metal-free click chemistry for soft tissue engineering.

PMID 25839124


Injectable hydrogels are important cell scaffolding materials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Here, we report a new class of biocompatible and biodegradable polysaccharide hydrogels derived from chitosan and hyaluronan via a metal-free click chemistry, without the addition of copper catalyst. For the metal-free click reaction, chitosan and hyaluronan were modified with oxanorbornadiene (OB) and 11-azido-3,6,9-trioxaundecan-1-amine (AA), respectively. The gelation is attributed to the triazole ring formation between OB and azido groups of polysaccharide derivatives. The molecular structures were verified by FT-IR spectroscopy and elemental analysis, giving substitution degrees of 58% and 47% for chitosan-OB and hyaluronan-AA, respectively. The in vitro gelation, morphologies, equilibrium swelling, compressive modulus and degradation of the composite hydrogels were examined. The potential of the metal-free hydrogel as a cell scaffold was demonstrated by encapsulation of human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) within the gel matrix in vitro. Cell culture showed that this metal-free hydrogel could support survival and proliferation of ASCs. A preliminary in vivo study demonstrated the usefulness of the hydrogel as an injectable scaffold for adipose tissue engineering. These characteristics provide a potential opportunity to use the metal-free click chemistry in preparation of biocompatible hydrogels for soft tissue engineering applications.