(696g) Fabrication of Polyethylene Glycol-Based Templated Macroporous Hydrogels for Cell Encapsulation
In recent years, macroporous hydrogels are sought after for a wide range of tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. There are various approaches to create porosity in gels such as lyophilization or foam formation, to name a few. However, most do not allow a precise control over pore size and interconnectivity and are not compatible with in situ cell encapsulation. Here, we developed novel templated macroporous hydrogels by encapsulating uniform degradable hydrogel microspheres produced via microfluidics into a hydrogel slab. The microspheres degrade completely leaving macropores behind. Uniquely, the degradable microspheres are biocompatible and when laden with cells or other molecules of interests, the cells and/or molecules were deposited in the macropores upon microsphere degradation. Microsphere degradation was dependent on the degradation medium, microspheres size, microsphere constraint from the hydrogel as well as cell encapsulation. The encapsulated cells were cultured in PEG hydrogel microspheres for up to 7 days with a cell viability higher than 90%.