Recent progress in gellan gum hydrogels provided by functionalization strategies
Gellan gum, a microbial exopolysaccharide fermentation product of Pseudomonas elodea, is a natural biomaterial that has shown promise for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. Although this exopolysaccharide possesses many advantages, such as interesting physicochemical properties and non-cytotoxicity, the mechanical properties and processability of gellan gum are not totally satisfactory in different tissue engineering contexts, i.e. gellan gum hydrogels are mechanically weak and the high gelling temperature is also unfavourable. An additional critical limitation is the lack of specific attachment sites for anchorage-dependent cells. However, the multiple hydroxyl groups and the free carboxyl per repeating unit of gellan gum can be used for chemical modification and functionalization in order to optimize its physicochemical and biological properties. A number of physical modification approaches have also been employed. This review outlines the recent progress in gellan gum hydrogels and their derivatives, and identifies the new challenges in tissue engineering, provided by blending and/or chemical modification.