High-Strength, Biomimetic Functional Chitosan-Based Hydrogels for Full-Thickness Osteochondral Defect Repair

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationACS Biomaterial Science and Engineering
Online published7 Sep 2022
Publication statusOnline published - 7 Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


Fabrication of a hydrogel scaffold for full-thickness osteochondral defect repair remains a grand challenge. Developing layered and multiphasic hydrogels to mimic the intrinsic hierarchical structure of the osteochondral unit is a promising strategy. Chitosan-based hydrogels are widely applied for biomedical applications. However, insufficient mechanical strength and lack of biological cues to restore damaged cartilage and subchondral tissue significantly hinder their application in osteochondral tissue engineering. In this study, a strong and tough, osteochondral-mimicking functional chitosan-based hydrogel (bilayer-gel) with an in situ mineralized, osteoconductive lower layer and a basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF)-incorporated, chondrogenic inducing upper layer was developed. The obtained bilayer-gel showed a depth-dependent gradient pore structure and composition. The strong double crosslinked hydrogel network and the homogeneous deposition of hydroxyapatite nanoparticles (HAp) at the lower layer provided a compressive strength of up to 2.5 MPa and a compressive strain of up to 40%. In vitro study showed that the bilayer-gel facilitates both chondrogenic differentiation in the upper layer and osteogenic differentiation in the lower layer. In vivo implantation revealed that the bilayer-gel could simultaneously promote hyaline cartilage and subchondral bone formation, thus resulting in an improved osteochondral reconstruction outcome. The present bilayer-gel thus shows great potential for full-thickness osteochondral defect repair.

Research Area(s)

  • gradient hydrogel, layered hydrogel, basic fibroblast growth factor, cartilage regeneration, osteointegration