a1 Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, United States
Chondroitin sulfate (CS) is one of the major glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) present in the connective tissue extracellular matrix (ECM) and is responsible for the regulation of cellular activities as well as providing mechanical support for the surrounding tissue. Due to presence of CS in the natural tissues including cartilage, hydrogels of CS and other GAGs have been widely used in cartilage regeneration. Due to their polyelectrolyte nature, GAG-based hydrogels are brittle and require modifications to overcome the weak mechanical properties. In this work, we showed copolymerization of methacrylated chondroitin sulfate with oligo(ethylene glycol)s improved the crosslink density of the gels from 2 to 20 times depending on the methacrylation degree of CS and length of the crosslinking monomer. Copolymerization of CS with oligo(ethylene glycol) acrylates is a method to design hydrogels with tunable swelling and mechanical properties.