A single component conducting polymer hydrogel as a scaffold for tissue engineering
Conducting polymers (CPs) have exciting potential as scaffolds for tissue engineering, typically applied in regenerative medicine applications. In particular, the electrical properties of CPs has been shown to enhance nerve and muscle cell growth and regeneration. Hydrogels are particularly suitable candidates as scaffolds for tissue engineering because of their hydrated nature, their biocompatibility, and their tissue-like mechanical properties. This study reports the development of the fi rst single component CP hydrogel that is shown to combine both electro-properties and hydrogel characteristics. Poly(3-thiopheneacetic acid) hydrogels were fabricated by covalently crosslinking the polymer with 1,1 ′ -carbonyldiimidazole (CDI). Their swelling behavior was assessed and shown to display remarkable swelling capabilities (swelling ratios up to 850%). The mechanical properties of the networks were characterized as a function of the crosslinking density and were found to be comparable to those of muscle tissue. Hydrogels were found to be electroactive and conductive at physiological pH. Fibroblast and myoblast cells cultured on the hydrogel substrates were shown to adhere and proliferate. This is the fi rst time that the potential of a single component CP hydrogel has been demonstrated for cell growth, opening the way for the development of new tissue engineering scaffolds.