Regenerative medicine strategies for restoring articular cartilage face significant challenges to recreate the complex and dynamic biochemical and biomechanical functions of native tissues. As an approach to recapitulate the complexity of the extracellular matrix, collagen-mimetic proteins offer a modular template to incorporate bioactive and biodegradable moieties into a single construct. We modified a Streptococcal collagen-like 2 protein with hyaluronic acid (HA) or chondroitin sulfate (CS)-binding peptides and then cross-linked with a matrix metalloproteinase 7 (MMP7)-sensitive peptide to form biodegradable hydrogels. Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) encapsulated in these hydrogels exhibited improved viability and significantly enhanced chondrogenic differentiation compared to controls that were not functionalized with glycosaminoglycan-binding peptides. Hydrogels functionalized with CS-binding peptides also led to significantly higher MMP7 gene expression and activity while the HA-binding peptides significantly increased chondrogenic differentiation of the hMSCs. Our results highlight the potential of this novel biomaterial to modulate cell-mediated processes and create functional tissue engineered constructs for regenerative medicine applications.
Parmar, P. A., Chow, L. W., St-Pierre, J. P., Horejs, C. M., Peng, Y. Y., Werkmeister, J. A., … Stevens, M. M. (2015). Collagen-mimetic peptide-modifiable hydrogels for articular cartilage regeneration. Biomaterials, 54, 213–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.02.079