3D-Printing Biodegradable PU/PAAM/Gel Hydrogel Scaffold with High Flexibility and Self-Adaptibility to Irregular Defects for Nonload-Bearing Bone Regeneration

Bioconjugate Chemistry 2021 Volume 32, Issue 8, Pages 1915-1925

A three-dimensional (3D) printed biodegradable hydrogel scaffold with a strong self-expanding ability to conform to the contour of irregular bone defects and be closely adjacent to host tissues is reported herein. The scaffold has a triple cross-linked network structure consisting of photo-cross-linked polyacrylamide (PAAM) and polyurethane (PU) as the primary IPN network and chemical cross-linked gelatin (Gel) as the secondary network, which confers the scaffold with good mechanical properties. The addition of PU in the polymerization process of acrylamide (AAM) can improve the ultraviolet (UV) photocuring efficiency of the hydrogel and incorporate abundant hydrogen bonds between the PAAM copolymer chain and the PU chain. The results show that the hydrogel scaffold contains regular structures with smooth morphology, excellent dimensional stability, and uniform aperture. The degradation rate of the hydrogel scaffold is controllable through adjusting cross-linking agents and can be up to about 60% after degradation for 28 days. More importantly, the rapid self-inflating characteristic of the scaffold in water, that is, the volume of hydrogel scaffold can increase to about 8 times that of their own in an hour and can generate a slight compressive stress on the surrounding host tissue, thus stimulating the reconstruction and growth of new bone tissues. The in vitro experiment indicates that the scaffold is nontoxic and biocompatible. The in vivo experiment shows that the PU/PAAM/Gel chemically cross-linked scaffold displays the desirable osteogenic capability. This UV-curable 3D printed self-adaptive and degradable hydrogel scaffold holds great potential for nonload-bearing bone repair.