The impact of mechanical properties of poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels on vocal fold fibroblasts' behavior
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Vocal fold scarring, caused by injury and inflammation, presents significant treatment challenges. Tissue engineering might be a promising treatment for vocal fold restoration or regeneration. It is important to investigate how scaffold properties alter cell behavior instead of screening thousand of materials, which is fundamental knowledge for rational scaffold design. This work studies how tuning only one parameter, mechanical strength of the hydrogel scaffold, influences the extracellular matrix production of encapsulated porcine vocal fold fibroblast (PVFF). PVFF cells were encapsulated by photopolymerization in 10 wt%, 20 wt%, and 30 wt% poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels (MW 10,000), with the similar biochemical environment and network structure but different mechanical properties. Cell adhesive peptide, RGDS, was grafted into each hydrogel network to mimic a cell adhesive environment. The glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) production per cell increased from 10 wt% to 20 wt%, 30 wt% gels, with an increase in hydrogel stiffness. The collagen production per cell increased from 10 wt% to 20 wt% gels but no further increase occurred with the increasing modulus from 20 wt% to 30 wt% gels. Interestingly, in hydrogels of intermediate modulus (20% PEGDA hydrogels), the highest elastin per cell was observed compared with gels with higher and lower storage modulus after day 30. Histological analysis showed GAGs, collagen and elastin were distributed pericellularly. However, the organization of collagen type I appeared to be influenced by gel mechanical properties, which was confirmed by immunohistological analysis. Furthermore, the immunohistological analysis showed that the phenotype of PVFF is regulated by the stiffness of the PEG hydrogel. This study demonstrates that different levels of VFF ECM formation may be achieved by varying the mechanical properties of PEG hydrogels and validates a systematic and controlled platform for further research of cell-biomaterials interaction.
Liao, Huimin (2007). The impact of mechanical properties of poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels on vocal fold fibroblasts' behavior. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from