Adipose tissue engineering represents a valuable alternative for reconstructive and cosmetic applications to restore soft tissue loss. Herein, for the development of a tissue-engineered adipose substitute, we designed an injectable thermoresponsive tissue adhesive hydrogel by grafting bioengineered mussel adhesive protein (MAP) with poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) and incorporating decellularized adipose tissue (DAT) powder as a biochemical cue. The body temperature-activated PNIPAM-grafted MAP (MAP-PNIPAM) hydrogel showed 3.2-times higher water retention ability, high porosity, and 8.4-times stronger tissue adhesive properties compared to the PNIPAM gel alone with pore collapse. Moreover, we found that the introduction of 5 wt% DAT powder had adipo-inductive and adipo-conductive effects, which might be due to the provision of biochemical substrates enriched in collagen and laminin for cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. In vivo subcutaneous injection of the adipose-derived stem cell-laden DAT-incorporated MAP-PNIPAM hydrogel further demonstrated better volume maintenance, angiogenesis, and lipid accumulation than control injectable alginate gel or DAT powder only. Collectively, our injectable body temperature-activated tissue adhesive MAP-PNIPAM hydrogel system with a decellularized extracellular matrix source can be utilized as a promising alternative for tissue-specific regenerative stem cell therapy. Statement of Significance: For adipose tissue engineering, we designed an injectable body temperature-activated adhesive hydrogel by grafting bioengineered mussel adhesive protein (MAP) with poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) and incorporating adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) and decellularized adipose tissue (DAT) powder as regenerative cell and ECM sources. PNIPAM has been widely used for cell sheet engineering, but not for cell carriers due to its dramatic thermal contractive properties. By conjugation with hydrophilic MAP, water retention ability and tissue adhesiveness of the scaffold increased by a factor of 3.2- and 8.4-fold, respectively, which are highly required for survival of the transplanted cells and interfacial integration with host tissues. In vivo performance demonstrated that ASCs/DAT powder-laden MAP-PNIPAM hydrogel achieved better volume maintenance, neovascularization, and adipogenesis than control injectable groups.
- Adipose tissue engineering
- Injectable hydrogel
- Mussel adhesive protein
- Tissue-specific stem cell therapy