Date

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Bioengineering

First Adviser

Schultz, Kelly M.

Abstract

Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are motile cells that migrate from their native niche to wounded sites where they regulate inflammation during healing. New materials are being developed as hMSC delivery platforms to enhance wound healing. To act as an effective wound healing material, the hydrogel must degrade at the same rate as tissue regeneration while maintaining high cell viability. This work determines the kinetics and mechanism of cell-mediated degradation in hMSC-laden poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels. We use a well-established hydrogel scaffold that is composed of a backbone of four-arm star PEG functionalized with norbornene that is cross-linked with a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) degradable peptide. This peptide sequence is cleaved by cell-secreted MMPs, which allow hMSCs to actively degrade the hydrogel during motility. Three mechanisms of degradation are characterized: hydrolytic, non-cellular enzymatic and cell-mediated degradation. We use bulk rheology to characterize hydrogel material properties and quantify degradation throughout the entire reaction. Hydrolysis and non-cellular enzymatic degradation are first characterized in hydrogels without hMSCs, and follow first-order and Michaelis-Menten kinetics, respectively. High cell viability is measured in hMSC-laden hydrogels, even after shearing on the rheometer. After confirming hMSC viability, bulk rheology characterizes cell-mediated degradation. When comparing cell-mediated degradation to non-cellular degradation mechanisms, cell-mediated degradation is dominated by enzymatic degradation. This indicates hydrogels with hMSCs are degraded primarily due to cell-secreted MMPs and very little network structure is lost due to hydrolysis. Modeling cell-mediated degradation provides an estimate of the initial concentration of MMPs secreted by hMSCs. By changing the concentration of hMSCs, we determine the initial MMP concentration increases with increasing hMSC concentration. This work characterizes the rate and mechanism of scaffold degradation, giving new insight into the design of these materials as implantable scaffolds.

Available for download on Saturday, February 08, 2020

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