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Hydroxyapatite-Integrated, Heparin-and Glycerol-Functionalized Chitosan-Based Injectable Hydrogels with Improved Mechanical and Proangiogenic Performance

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Article number5370
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/05/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number10
Number of pages17
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The investigation of natural bioactive injectable composites to induce angiogenesis during bone regeneration has been a part of recent minimally invasive regenerative medicine strategies. Our previous study involved the development of in situ-forming injectable composite hydrogels (Chitosan/Hydroxyapatite/Heparin) for bone regeneration. These hydrogels offered facile rheology, injectability, and gelation at 37◦C, as well as promising pro-angiogenic abilities. In the current study, these hydrogels were modified using glycerol as an additive and a pre-sterile production strategy to enhance their mechanical strength. These modifications allowed a further pH increment during neutralisation with maintained solution homogeneity. The synergetic effect of the pH increment and further hydrogen bonding due to the added glycerol improved the strength of the hydrogels substantially. SEM analyses showed highly cross-linked hydrogels (from high-pH solutions) with a hierarchical interlocking pore morphology. Hydrogel solutions showed more elastic flow properties and incipient gelation times decreased to just 2 to 3 min at 37◦C. Toluidine blue assay and SEM analyses showed that heparin formed a coating at the top layer of the hydrogels which contributed anionic bioactive surface features. The chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay confirmed significant enhancement of angiogenesis with chitosan-matrixed hydrogels comprising hydroxyapatite and small quantities of heparin (33 µg/mL) compared to basic chitosan hydrogels.