Recent advances in crosslinking chemistry of biomimetic poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels
The designs and applications of biomimetic hydrogels have become an important and integral part of modern tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Many of these hydrogels are prepared from synthetic macromers (e.g., poly(ethylene glycol) or PEG) as they provide high degrees of tunability for matrix crosslinking, degradation, and modification. For a hydrogel to be considered biomimetic, it has to recapitulate key features that are found in the native extracellular matrix, such as the appropriate matrix mechanics and permeability, the ability to sequester and deliver drugs, proteins, or nucleic acids, as well as the ability to provide receptor-mediated cell–matrix interactions and protease-mediated matrix cleavage. A variety of chemistries have been employed to impart these biomimetic features into hydrogel crosslinking. These chemistries, such as radical-mediated polymerizations, enzyme-mediated crosslinking, bio-orthogonal click reactions, and supramolecular assembly, may be different in their crosslinking mechanisms but are required to be efficient for gel crosslinking and ligand bioconjugation under aqueous reaction conditions. The prepared biomimetic hydrogels should display a diverse array of functionalities and should also be cytocompatible for in vitro cell culture and/or in situ cell encapsulation. The focus of this article is to review recent progress in the crosslinking chemistries of biomimetic hydrogels with a special emphasis on hydrogels crosslinked from poly(ethylene glycol)-based macromers.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Chemistry for Medicine: Special Collection for RSC Advances