Porous three-dimensional hydrogel scaffolds have an exquisite ability to promote tissue repair. However, because of their high water content and invasive nature during surgical implantation, hydrogels are at an increased risk of bacterial infection. Recently, we have developed elastic biomimetic cryogels, an advanced type of polymeric hydrogel, that are syringe-deliverable through hypodermic needles. These needle-injectable cryogels have unique properties, including large and interconnected pores, mechanical robustness, and shape-memory. Like hydrogels, cryogels are also susceptible to colonization by microbial pathogens. To that end, our minimally invasive cryogels have been engineered to address this challenge. Specifically, we hybridized the cryogels with calcium peroxide microparticles to controllably produce bactericidal hydrogen peroxide. Our novel microcomposite cryogels exhibit antimicrobial properties and inhibit antibiotic-resistant bacteria (MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa), the most common cause of biomaterial implant failure in modern medicine. Moreover, the cryogels showed negligible cytotoxicity toward murine fibroblasts and prevented activation of primary bone marrow-derived dendritic cells ex vivo. Finally, in vivo data suggested tissue integration, biodegradation, and minimal host inflammatory responses when the antimicrobial cryogels, even when purposely contaminated with bacteria, were subcutaneously injected in mice. Collectively, these needle-injectable microcomposite cryogels show great promise for biomedical applications, especially in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Natural Sciences in General