Stabilization of damaged articular cartilage with hydrogel‐mediated reinforcement and sealing

Authors: Jay M. Patel, Claudia Loebel, Kamiel S. Saleh, Brian C. Wise, Edward D. Bonnevie, Liane M. Miller, James L. Carey, Jason A. Burdick, Robert L. Mauck


Cartilage injuries and subsequent tissue deterioration impact millions of patients. Since the regeneration of functional hyaline cartilage remains elusive, methods to stabilize the remaining tissue, and prevent further deterioration, would be of significant clinical utility and prolong joint function. Finite element modeling shows that fortification of the degenerate cartilage (Reinforcement) and reestablishment of a superficial zone (Sealing) are both required to restore fluid pressurization within the tissue and restrict fluid flow and matrix loss from the defect surface. Here, a hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogel system is designed to both interdigitate with and promote the sealing of the degenerated cartilage. Interdigitating fortification restores both bulk and local pericellular tissue mechanics, reestablishing the homeostatic mechanotransduction of endogenous chondrocytes within the tissue. This HA therapy is further functionalized to present chemo mechanical cues that improve the attachment and direct the response of mesenchymal stem/stromal cells at the defect site, guiding localized extracellular matrix deposition to “seal” the defect. Together, these results support the therapeutic potential, across cell and tissue length scales, of an innovative hydrogel therapy for the treatment of damaged cartilage.

Source: Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2021; 2100315