A novel method for the direct fabrication of growth factor-loaded microspheres within porous nondegradable hydrogels: Controlled release for cartilage tissue engineering

Kara L. Spiller, Yu Liu, Julianne L. Holloway, Suzanne A. Maher, Yilin Cao, Wei Liu, Guangdong Zhou, Anthony M. Lowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Scopus citations


Because of similar mechanical properties to native cartilage, synthetic hydrogels based on poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) have been proposed for replacement of damaged articular cartilage, but they suffer from a complete lack of integration with surrounding tissue. In this study, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), an important growth factor in cartilage regeneration, was encapsulated in degradable poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microparticles embedded in the PVA hydrogels in a single step based on a double emulsion. The release of IGF-1 from these hydrogels was sustained over 6 weeks in vitro. Poly(glycolic acid) (PGA) fiber scaffolds were wrapped around the hydrogels, seeded with chondrocytes, and implanted subcutaneously in athymic mice. The release of IGF-1 enhanced cartilage formation in the layers surrounding the hydrogels, in terms of the content of extracellular matrix components and mechanical properties, and increased integration between the cartilage layers and the hydrogels, according to gross observation of the cross-sections and histology. The compressive modulus of the cartilage-hydrogel constructs without IGF-1 was 0.07 ± 0.02 MPa, compared to 0.17-0.2 MPa for hydrogels that contained IGF-1. The biochemical and mechanical markers of cartilage formation were not different between the low and high concentrations of IGF-1, despite an order of magnitude difference in concentration. This study shows that the sustained release of IGF-1 can enhance tissue formation and points to a possible strategy for effecting integration with surrounding tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-45
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2012



  • Cartilage tissue engineering
  • Hydrogel
  • Insulin-like growth factor-1
  • Microparticle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science

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