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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 871218, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/871218
Research Article

Hyaluronic Acid Based Hydrogels for Regenerative Medicine Applications

1Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials, National Research Council, Mostra d’Oltremare Pad. 20, Viale J. F. Kennedy 54, 80125 Naples, Italy
2Biopharma Commercial, Novozymes Biopharma DK A/S, Krogshoejvej 36, 2880 Bagsvaerd, Denmark
3Department of Chemical Science and Materials Technology DCSMT-CNR, Piazzale Aldo Moro 7, 00185 Rome, Italy

Received 26 September 2014; Revised 7 January 2015; Accepted 6 March 2015

Academic Editor: Janet H. Fitton

Copyright © 2015 Assunta Borzacchiello et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels, obtained by cross-linking HA molecules with divinyl sulfone (DVS) based on a simple, reproducible, and safe process that does not employ any organic solvents, were developed. Owing to an innovative preparation method the resulting homogeneous hydrogels do not contain any detectable residual cross-linking agent and are easier to inject through a fine needle. HA hydrogels were characterized in terms of degradation and biological properties, viscoelasticity, injectability, and network structural parameters. They exhibit a rheological behaviour typical of strong gels and show improved viscoelastic properties by increasing HA concentration and decreasing HA/DVS weight ratio. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that processes such as sterilization and extrusion through clinical needles do not imply significant alteration of viscoelastic properties. Both SANS and rheological tests indicated that the cross-links appear to compact the network, resulting in a reduction of the mesh size by increasing the cross-linker amount. In vitro degradation tests of the HA hydrogels demonstrated that these new hydrogels show a good stability against enzymatic degradation, which increases by increasing HA concentration and decreasing HA/DVS weight ratio. Finally, the hydrogels show a good biocompatibility confirmed by in vitro tests.