Heparin-modified dendrimer cross-linked collagen matrices for the delivery of basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2)
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Tissue integration between a tissue-engineered corneal equivalent and the host eye is of critical importance in ensuring long-term implant success. A novel dendrimer cross-linked collagen scaffold has previously shown good corneal epithelial cell compatibility in vitro particularly when the highly functional dendrimer cross-linkers were functionalized to introduce additional biological groups. Herein we investigated heparinization of these materials and their potential to facilitate the delivery of basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) in an active form, ultimately for use as a corneal tissue scaffold. Collagen gels cross-linked with 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethyl aminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) and N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) chemistry, and varying amounts of polypropyleneimine octaamine generation 2 (G2) dendimer and heparin were synthesized. Swelling studies and differential scanning calorimetry characterization indicated higher gel stability with the introduction of dendrimer cross-linking, which was not compromised by heparin integration. Dendrimer cross-linked gels with or without heparin gave multiple denaturation peaks, as did the heparinized EDC gels. This is thought to be the result of the heterogeneous cross-linking possible between collagen, the dendrimer and heparin. Release of FGF-2 from collagen gels showed typical first-order kinetics, with an initial burst followed by a prolonged gradual release. Heparinized dendrimer cross-linked gels released approx. 40% of the growth factor over a 2-week period, with significance maintenance of growth factor activity. Incorporation of heparin resulted in somewhat prolonged release from these systems.
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