Model studies of diffusion-controlled (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) HEMA hydrogel membranes for controlled release of proteins
Appawu, Jennifer A. M.
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This thesis project consisted of three main components that were connected by roots in chemical analysis for studies in tissue engineering. The first part focused on characterizing the structural parameters of synthetic cross-linked poly (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (Poly(HEMA) hydrogel membranes to determine optimal formulations for clinical studies. Poly(HEMA) membranes were loaded with Keratincocyte Growth Factor (KGF) for controlled release studies. Protein loading and release kinetics were determined with fluorescence spectroscopy. The spatial distribution of a protein in the membrane was determined using Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS). The last part of the project focused on determining the biological effects of the polymer membranes in-vitro with a model cell line and a pilot in-vivo animal study. Based on the components completed in this project, five chapters are included in this dissertation document and are summarized below. A new protocol was developed using fluorescence spectroscopy that measured the rate of protein diffusion into cross-linked polymer membranes by measuring the change in the fluorescence intensity of the protein solution. This technique was also able to detect a conformational change that occurs within protein when KGF was imbibed within these cross-linked polymer membranes. ToF-SIMS chemical imaging and 3D depth profiling was used to determine the spatial distribution of KGF protein in frozen-hydrated HEMA hydrogel membranes. The 3D depth profiles showed that the KGF protein was aggregated in bright spots that indicated that KGF was not spatially homogenous on the surface and through the depth profiles. 3D depth profiles of the membranes studied at various times during release studies show that areas with aggregated proteins were retained during release, and at times with maximum release. The interpretation of the bright regions is that the KGf protein interacted with the cross-linked network of the hydrogel membranes, making it not available for release. The in-vitro biological experiments with the HaCaT cell line showed that the HEMA hydrogels were capable of sustaining cell viability, proliferation, and adhesion through cell adhesion and wounding experiments. The pilot in-vivo animal study also revealed that KGF protein had retained its pharmacological activity. The study also showed that the KGF protein enhanced the rate of wound closure.