Thiol-ene crosslinking polyamidoamine dendrimer-hyaluronic acid hydrogel system for biomedical applications

<p>A series of alkene functionalized polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers were synthesized to prepare <i>in situ</i> forming hydrogels with varied gelation time and mechanical properties through crosslinking with thiolated hyaluronic acid (HS-HA). By varying the alkenyl groups on the dendrimers, the gelation time displayed a large range from 8 seconds to 18 hours, and the modulus of the hydrogels ranged from 36 to 183 Pa under experimental conditions. Investigation by <sup>1</sup>H-NMR spectroscopy revealed that the gelation time and the stiffness of the hydrogels were governed by the degree of electron deficiency of alkenyl groups on the dendrimers. This research provided a systematic study on the relationship between chemical structures versus gelation time and mechanical properties of hydrogels, which could guide the way to synthesize <i>in situ</i> forming hydrogels with designated gelation time and stiffness for biomedical applications. Further, a RGD peptide was attached to the PAMAM dendrimers to enhance cell attachment and proliferation. Viability assays of Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVEC) in the synthesized hydrogels demonstrated the biocompatibility of the hydrogels after 48 hours of culturing, and the RGD peptide improved the viability of HUVEC cells in hydrogels. We believe the PAMAM/HA hydrogel system is a tuneable and biocompatible system for diverse biomedical applications.</p>