Considering the complicated and irregular anatomical structure of root canal systems, injectable microspheres have received considerable attention as cell carriers in endodontic regeneration. Herein, we developed injectable hybrid RGD-alginate/laponite (RGD-Alg/Lap) hydrogel microspheres, co-encapsulating human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These microspheres were prepared by the electrostatic microdroplet method with an average size of 350∼450 μm. By adjusting the content of laponite, the rheological properties and the degradation rate of the microspheres in vitro could be conditioned. The release of VEGF from the RGD-Alg/0.5%Lap microspheres was in a sustained manner for 28 days while the bioactivity of VEGF was preserved. In addition, the encapsulated hDPSCs were evenly distributed in microspheres with a cell viability exceeding 85%. The deposition of abundant extracellular matrix such as fibronectin (FN) and collagen type I (Col-I) was shown in microspheres after 7 days. The laponite in the system significantly up-regulated the expression of odontogenic-related genes of hDPSCs at day 7. Furthermore, after subcutaneous implantation with tooth slices in a nude mouse model for 1 month, the hDPSCs-laden RGD-Alg/0.5%Lap+VEGF microspheres significantly promoted the regeneration of pulp-like tissues as well as the formation of new micro-vessels. These results demonstrated the great potential of laponite-enhanced hydrogel microspheres in vascularized dental pulp regeneration.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.