Biocompatibility of chemoenzymatically derived dextran-acrylate hydrogels

Lino Ferreira, Ana Rafael, Meriem Lamghari, Mario A. Barbosa, Maria H. Gil, António M.S. Cabrita, Jonathan S. Dordick

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51 Scopus citations


The biocompatibility of chemoenzymatically generated dextran-acrylate hydrogels has been evaluated in vitro, using human foreskin fibroblasts, and in vivo, by subcutaneous and intramuscular implantation in Wistar rats for up to 40 days. In vitro tests show that hydrogel extracts only minimally reduced (<10%) the mitochondrial metabolic activity of fibroblasts. Direct contact of the hydrogels with cells induced a cellular proliferation inhibition index (CPII) of 50-80%, compared with a control, whereas through indirect contact, the CPII values were <16%, suggesting that the high CPII values achieved in the direct assay test were likely due to mechanical stress or limitations in oxygen diffusion. Hence, the hydrogels were noncytotoxic. Moreover, cell-material interaction studies show that these hydrogels were nonadhesive. Finally, histologic evaluation of tissue response to subcutaneous and intramuscular implants showed acceptable levels of biocompatibility, as characterized by a normal cellular response and the absence of necrosis of the surrounding tissues of the implant. In the first 10 days, the foreign-body reaction in the intramuscular implantation was more severe than in subcutaneous implantation, becoming identical after 30 days. In both cases, dextran hydrogels did not show signs of degradation 6 weeks postimplantation and were surrounded by a thin fibrous capsule and some macrophages and giant cells. This response is typical with a number of nondegradable biocompatible materials. These results indicate that dextran hydrogels are biocompatible, and may have suitable applications as implantable long-term peptide/protein delivery systems or scaffolds for tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-596
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Biocatalytic polyester
  • Biocompatibility
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Dextran
  • Hydrogel


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