The pain and gradually progressing limitation of mobility are the main burdens of osteoarthritis (OA). Each year, an increasing number of people are affected by the OA. Meanwhile, despite the efforts of many scientific groups, the successful regeneration of cartilage tissue remains an unresolved issue. Amongst many therapeutic strategies, those involving hydrogels are one of the most promising ones since those three-dimensional polymeric networks with high water content already possess tissue-like features and can be further tailored to the needs of the cartilage [1,2].
In our study, bioactive high-strength scaffolds based on double network (DN) hydrogels were proposed for the regeneration of partial-thickness cartilage defects. First, N,O-carboxymethyl chitosan (CMCS) – a water-soluble CS derivative – was synthesized. Then, a double network structure was created through appropriate crosslinking of CMCS and poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) networks. For regeneration of partial-thickness cartilage defects, bi-layered scaffolds were designed with different orientations of collagen fibers to mimic the superficial and middle zone of the native tissue. The physicochemical properties of the obtained materials were assessed. Rheological properties of the hydrogels, as well as structure, morphology, mechanical, surface, and finally biological properties of the scaffolds were investigated.
Chitosan derivative was successfully synthesized. DN hydrogels formed through physical crosslinking of CMCS and PVA expressed superior mechanical properties. The bi-layered scaffolds were produced to imitate the missing part of the assumed cartilage defect. The use of collagen had a positive effect on cytocompatibility. Increased biological activity was achieved through the introduction of kartogenin.
The design of the proposed scaffolds followed biomimetic principles. The developed CMCS/PVA double network hydrogels modified with collagen and kartogenin have promising properties and can be considered as promising materials for cartilage tissue engineering.
This study was supported by the Program “Excellence Initiative – Research University” for the AGH University of Science and Technology.
1. Wei, W. et al., Bioact. Mater. 6, 998–1011 (2021).
2. Xu, X. et al., Mater. Horiz., 8, 1173-1188 (2021).