The Effects of Poly(Ethyleneimine) (PEI) Molecular Weight on Reinforcement of Alginate Hydrogels

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Abstract:

Alginate hydrogels are widely used for cell encapsulation and transplantation, and they are frequently surface reinforced with secondary polymers to enhance their mechanical rigidity and stability. We hypothesized that the molecular weight (MW) of the polymer utilized to reinforce alginate would be an important factor in their stability, particularly when the gel network was homogeneously reinforced with the polymer. This hypothesis was investigated with alginate hydrogels cross-linked with Ca2+, and reinforced throughout the bulk of the gel with poly(ethyleneimine) (PEI) having different MWs. Interactions between the two polymers became significant following gelation, leading to higher elastic moduli (E) than gels with no PEI. The decrease in E of gels incubated in isotonic salt solutions over time, utilized as an indication of gel break down, was ameliorated with an increase in the MW of the PEI. In addition, the dependencies of the moduli and viscoelasticity on the temperature also became smaller with the use of high MW PEI. This is likely due to the limited mobility of high MW PEI, leading to a higher energy for dissociation. The stable interactions between the alginate and PEI prevented alterations of the pore structure in the gels, and slowed the deterioration of gel properties even under continuous agitation in a bioreactor. The results of this study will likely be useful in designing alginate encapsulation strategies for various applications.

Keywords: Encapsulation; Fatigue loading; Pore size; Viscoelasticity

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3727/000000003108747253

Affiliations: *Department of Biologic & Materials Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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