Development of a Nanohybrid Peptide Hydrogel for Enhanced Intervertebral Disc Repair and Regeneration

ACS Nano 2023 Volume 17, Issue 4, Pages 3750–3764

Effective therapeutic approaches to overcome the heterogeneous pro-inflammatory and inhibitory extracellular matrix (ECM) microenvironment are urgently needed to achieve robust structural and functional repair of severely wounded fibrocartilaginous tissues. Herein we developed a dynamic and multifunctional nanohybrid peptide hydrogel (NHPH) through hierarchical self-assembly of peptide amphiphile modified with biodegradable two-dimensional nanomaterials with enzyme-like functions. NHPH is not only injectable, biocompatible, and biodegradable but also therapeutic by catalyzing the scavenging of pro-inflammatory reactive oxygen species and promoting ECM remodeling. In addition, our NHPH method facilitated the structural and functional recovery of the intervertebral disc (IVD) after severe injuries by delivering pro-regenerative cytokines in a sustained manner, effectively suppressing immune responses and eventually restoring the regenerative microenvironment of the ECM. In parallel, the NHPH-enhanced nucleus pulposus cell differentiation and pain reduction in a rat nucleotomy model further validated the therapeutic potential of NHPH. Collectively, our advanced nanoscaffold technology will provide an alternative approach for the effective treatment of IVD degeneration as well as other fibrocartilaginous tissue injuries.