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Whey protein isolate: a versatile dairy-derived hydrogel for bone and vascular tissue engineering and antimicrobial applications

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number11
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/03/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Hemijska Industrija
Issue number1S
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


INTRODUCTION: Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) is an inexpensive by-product of the dairy industry, available in large quantities and used as a dietary supplement. WPI is over 97% protein; three-quarters is beta-lactoglobulin (β-LG) [1]. WPI in cell culture medium promoted the proliferation and differentiation of bone-forming cells [2]. Solutions of WPI can be heated to form hydrogels, which withstand sterilization by autoclaving; an important practical advantage. Denaturation of β-LG leads to increased hydrophobic interactions and disulphide bond formation and thus crosslinking to form the polymer hydrogel network [3]. We have studied WPI hydrogels as scaffolds for bone-forming cells and carriers of hydrophobic substances. EXPERIMENTAL: WPI hydrogels 15% to 40% (w/v) have been made [4-5]; inorganic particles, like bioactive glasses, alpha-tricalcium phosphate, aragonite and hydroxyapatite (HA) can easily be added during hydrogel formation [6-9]. Hydrophobic molecules such as phloroglucinol (PG), the fundamental subunit of marine polyphenols, and poly-gamma-glutamic acid (PGGA), can be incorporated during hydrogel formation. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: WPI hydrogels support the adhesion and growth of a range of bone-forming cells, including MG-63 osteoblast-like cells, normal human foetal osteoblasts (hFOB) normal mouse calvarial preosteoblasts (MC3T3-E1) and dental pulp stem cells [6-10], as well as human umbilical vascular endothelial cells (HUVEC) [5]. Addition of aragonite [8] and PGGA [11] promoted osteoblastic differentiation, while incorporation of PG endowed antimicrobial activity towards a wide range of microbes including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis while maintaining cytocompatibility [11]. CONCLUSIONS: WPI hydrogels are both promising scaffolds for bone cells and hydrophobic drug carriers.

Bibliographic note

Export Date: 25 April 2024 Correspondence Address: Douglas, T.E.L.; School of Engineering, Gillow Avenue, United Kingdom; email: t.douglas@lancaster.ac.uk