Biocompatibility of amphiphilic diblock copolypeptide hydrogels in the central nervous system

Chu Ya Yang, Bingbing Song, Yan Ao, Andrew P. Nowak, Ryan B. Abelowitz, Rose A. Korsak, Leif A. Havton, Timothy J. Deming, Michael V. Sofroniew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Amphiphilic diblock copolypeptide hydrogels (DCHs) are synthetic materials whose properties can be varied readily and predictably by altering copolymer chain length or composition and which are of potential interest for biomaterial applications. We tested the biocompatibility in the central nervous system (CNS) of DCH composed of lysine, homoarginine or glutamate in combination with leucine. A range of DCH formulations with rheological properties similar to brain tissue were injected into mouse forebrain and examined after 1-8 weeks using light microscopy, immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. DCH deposits elicited no more gliosis, inflammation, or toxicity to neurons, myelin or axons than did injections of physiological saline. The size, rigidity, and density of DCH deposits could be varied subtly by altering DCH composition and concentration. For any given DCH formulation, increased concentration correlated with increased gel strength in vitro and increased deposit size in vivo. DCHs of lysine and leucine (KmLn) were selected for detailed analyses because these formed deposits with desirable physical properties and since lysine is routinely used as a substrate for neural cell cultures. Deposits of unmodified K180L20 exhibited time-dependent in-growth of blood vessels and of certain glial cells, and limited in-growth of nerve fibers. These findings show that DCHs are injectable, re-assemble in vivo to form 3-dimensional deposits, exhibit little or no detectable toxicity in the CNS, integrate well with brain tissue and represent a new class of synthetic biomaterials with potential for applications as depots or scaffolds in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2881-2898
Number of pages18
Issue number15
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Biocompatibility
  • Brain
  • Drug delivery
  • Hydrogels
  • Scaffolds
  • Spinal cord


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