Design of semi-degradable hydrogels based on poly(vinyl alcohol) and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) for cartilage tissue engineering

Kara L. Spiller, Julianne L. Holloway, Megan E. Gribb, Anthony M. Lowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Articular cartilage damage is a persistent challenge in biomaterials and tissue engineering. Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) hydrogels have shown promise as implants, but their lack of integration with surrounding cartilage prevents their utility. We sought to combine the advantages of PVA hydrogels with poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) scaffolds, which have been successful in facilitating the integration of neocartilage with surrounding tissue. Through a novel double-emulsion technique, PLGA microparticles and a high level of porosity were simultaneously incorporated into PVA hydrogels. The porosity, average pore size and swelling properties of the hydrogels were controlled by varying initial processing parameters, such as the relative amounts of PLGA and solvent. Average pore sizes were in the ranged 50-100 μm. The PLGA microparticles degraded within the hydrogels over time in aqueous conditions, resulting in increases in porosity and pore size. After 4 weeks in cell culture, immature cartilage tissue filled many of the pores of the hydrogels that initially contained PLGA, and proteoglycan production was proportional to the amount of PLGA. In contrast, there was little cell attachment and no proteoglycan production in control hydrogels without PLGA. The compressive moduli of the hydrogels were similar to that of healthy cartilage and increased over time from 0.05-0.1 to 0.3-0.7 MPa. The generation of a hybrid cartilage-hydrogel construct using this technique may finally allow the integration of PVA hydrogels with surrounding cartilage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)636-647
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cartilage
  • Hydrogel
  • Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)
  • Poly(vinyl alcohol)
  • Porosity
  • Swelling behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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