Peptide modification of hydrogel-forming materials is being widely explored as a means to regulate the phenotype of cells immobilized within the gels. Alternatively, we hypothesized that the adhesive interactions between cells and peptides coupled to the gel-forming materials would also enhance the overall mechanical properties of the gels. To test this hypothesis, alginate polymers were modified with RGDSP-containing peptides and the resultant polymer was used to encapsulate C2C12 myoblasts. The mechanical properties of these gels were then assessed as a function of both peptide and cell density using compression and tensile tests. Overall, it was found that above a critical peptide and cell density, encapsulated myoblasts were able to provide additional mechanical integrity to hydrogels composed of peptide-modified alginate. This occurred presumably by means of cell-peptide cross-linking of the alginate polymers, in addition to the usual Ca++ cross-linking. These results are potentially applicable to other polymer systems and important for a range of tissue engineering applications.
Last updated on 09/29/2017
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