Self-assembling peptide hydrogel for intervertebral disc tissue engineering

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Cell-based therapies for regeneration of intervertebral discs are regarded to hold promise for degenerative disc disease treatment, a condition that is strongly linked to lower back pain. A de novo self-assembling peptide hydrogel (SAPH), chosen for its biocompatibility, tailorable properties and nanofibrous architecture, was investigated as a cell carrier and scaffold for nucleus pulposus (NP) tissue engineering. Oscillatory rheology determined that the system would likely be deliverable via minimally invasive procedure and mechanical properties could be optimised to match the stiffness of the native human NP. After three-dimensional culture of NP cells (NPCs) in the SAPH, upregulation of NP-specific genes (KRT8, KRT18, FOXF1) confirmed that the system could restore the NP phenotype following de-differentiation during monolayer culture. Cell viability was high throughout culture whilst, similarly to NPCs in vivo, the viable cell population remained stable. Finally, the SAPH stimulated time-dependent increases in aggrecan and type II collagen deposition, two important NP extracellular matrix components. Results supported the hypothesis that the SAPH could be used as a cell delivery system and scaffold for the treatment of degenerative disc disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Early online date24 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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