Injectable graphene oxide/hydrogel-based angiogenic gene delivery system for vasculogenesis and cardiac repair

Arghya Paul, Anwarul Hasan, Hamood Al Kindi, Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, Vijayaraghava T S Rao, Mehdi Nikkhah, Su Ryon Shin, Dorothee Krafft, Mehmet R. Dokmeci, Dominique Shum-Tim, Ali Khademhosseini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

427 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to develop an injectable and biocompatible hydrogel which can efficiently deliver a nanocomplex of graphene oxide (GO) and vascular endothelial growth factor-165 (VEGF) pro-angiogenic gene for myocardial therapy. For the study, an efficient nonviral gene delivery system using polyethylenimine (PEI) functionalized GO nanosheets (fGO) complexed with DNAVEGF was formulated and incorporated in the low-modulus methacrylated gelatin (GelMA) hydrogel to promote controlled and localized gene therapy. It was hypothesized that the fGOVEGF/GelMA nanocomposite hydrogels can efficiently transfect myocardial tissues and induce favorable therapeutic effects without invoking cytotoxic effects. To evaluate this hypothesis, a rat model with acute myocardial infarction was used, and the therapeutic hydrogels were injected intramyocardially in the peri-infarct regions. The secreted VEGF from in vitro transfected cardiomyocytes demonstrated profound mitotic activities on endothelial cells. A significant increase in myocardial capillary density at the injected peri-infarct region and reduction in scar area were noted in the infarcted hearts with fGOVEGF/GelMA treatment compared to infarcted hearts treated with untreated sham, GelMA and DNAVEGF/GelMA groups. Furthermore, the fGOVEGF/GelMA group showed significantly higher (p < 0.05, n = 7) cardiac performance in echocardiography compared to other groups, 14 days postinjection. In addition, no significant differences were noticed between GO/GelMA and non-GO groups in the serum cytokine levels and quantitative PCR based inflammatory microRNA (miRNA) marker expressions at the injected sites. Collectively, the current findings suggest the feasibility of a combined hydrogel-based gene therapy system for ischemic heart diseases using nonviral hybrid complex of fGO and DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8050-8062
Number of pages13
JournalACS nano
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 26 2014


  • gene delivery
  • graphene oxide
  • injectable hydrogel
  • myocardial therapy
  • nanomedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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