Functionalization of hyaluronic acid hydrogels with ECM-derived peptides to control myoblast behavior

Acta Biomaterialia

Volumetric muscle loss (VML) occurs when skeletal muscle injury is too large for the body to fully self-repair. Typically, fibrotic tissue fills the void, which reduces muscle functionality and limb movement. Although a wide variety of natural and synthetic scaffolds have been studied with the purpose of providing the appropriate structural support, to date no scaffold has significantly restored muscle functionality after VML. Satellite cells, adult stem cells within the muscle capable of restoring smaller injuries, are sensitive to the stiffness and composition of the surrounding environment. Scaffolds that only address structural support are not sufficient to restore functionality and instead need to be designed to both promote satellite cell activation and prevent excessive fibroblast recruitment. The objective of this study was to design a scaffold that mimicked the regenerative environment and determine how the biomechanical properties differentially influence satellite myogenic precursor and connective tissue cells. One of the main extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules upregulated during regeneration is hyaluronic acid (HA). Therefore, thiol-modified HA and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogels were generated and functionalized with peptides based on ECM known to influence regeneration, including fibronectin, laminin and tenascin-C. Scaffolds with different stiffness were created by varying HA content. The influence of HA stiffness and peptide functionalization on satellite myogenic precursor and connective tissue cell proliferation, migration and gene expression was quantified. Our results indicated that HA hydrogels functionalized with the laminin peptide, IKVAV, show potential due to the enhanced promotion of myogenic cell behaviors including migration, proliferation and an increase in relevant transcription factors.



Keywords: skeletal muscle; connective tissue; hydrogel; extracellular matrix; cell-adhesion peptides






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