Bifunctional hydrogel for potential vascularized bone tissue regeneration

Bipin Gaihre, Xifeng Liu, Linli Li, A. Lee Miller, Emily T. Camilleri, Yong Li, Brian Waletzki, Lichun Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most of the synthetic polymer-based hydrogels lack the intrinsic properties needed for tissue engineering applications. Here, we describe a biomimetic approach to induce the mineralization and vascularization of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based hydrogel to template the osteogenic activities. The strategy involves the covalent functionalization of oligo[poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate] (OPF) with phosphate groups and subsequent treatment of phosphorylated-OPF (Pi-OPF) hydrogels with alkaline phosphatase enzyme (ALP) and calcium. Unlike previously reported studies for ALP induced mineralization, in this study, the base polymer itself was modified with the phosphate groups for uniform mineralization of hydrogels. In addition to improvement of mechanical properties, enhancement of MC3T3-E1 cell attachment and proliferation, and promotion of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) differentiation were observed as the intrinsic benefits of such mineralization. Current bone tissue engineering (BTE) research endeavors are also extensively focused on vascular tissue regeneration due to its inherent advantages in bone regeneration. Taking this into account, we further functionalized the mineralized hydrogels with FG-4592, small hypoxia mimicking molecule. The functionalized hydrogels elicited upregulated in vitro angiogenic activities of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). In addition, when implanted subcutaneously in rats, enhanced early vascularization activities around the implantation site were observed as demonstrated by the immunohistochemistry results. This further leveraged the formation of calcified tissues at the implantation site at later time points evident through X-ray imaging. The overall results here show the perspectives of bifunctional OPF hydrogels for vascularized BTE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112075
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Angiogenesis
  • Enzymatic mineralization
  • FG-4592
  • Hydrogel
  • Phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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