Injectable hydrogels provide locally controlled tissue bulking and a means to deliver drugs and cells to the body. The formation of hydrogels in vivo may involve the delivery of two solutions that spontaneously crosslink when mixed, with pH or temperature changes, or with light (e.g., visible or ultraviolet). With these approaches, control over the kinetics of gelation, introduction of the initiation trigger (e.g., limited penetration of ultraviolet light through tissues), or alteration of the material physical properties (e.g., mechanics) may be difficult to achieve. To overcome these limitations, we used the interaction of near-infrared (NIR) light with gold nanorods (AuNRs) to generate heat through the photothermal effect. NIR light penetrates tissues to a greater extent than other wavelengths and provides a means to indirectly initiate radical polymerization. Specifically, this heating coupled with a thermal initiator (VA-044) produced radicals that polymerized methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) and generated hydrogels. A range of VA-044 concentrations changed the gelation time, yielding a system stable at 37°C for 22 min that gels quickly (∼3 min) when heated to 55°C. With a constant irradiation time (10 min) and laser power (0.3 W), different VA-044 and AuNR concentrations tuned the compressive modulus of the hydrogel. By changing the NIR irradiation time we attained a wide range of moduli at a set solution composition. In vivo mouse studies confirmed that NIR laser irradiation through tissue could gel an injected precursor solution transdermally.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering