Nanoengineered injectable hydrogels derived from layered double hydroxides and alginate for sustained release of protein therapeutics in tissue engineering applications

V. H.Giang Phan, Hai Sang Duong, Quynh Giao Thi Le, Gopinathan Janarthanan, Sanjairaj Vijayavenkataraman, Hoang Nam Huynh Nguyen, Bich Phuong Thi Nguyen, Panchanathan Manivasagan, Eue Soon Jang, Yi Li, Thavasyappan Thambi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) which involves gradual loss of kidney function is characterized by low levels of a glycoprotein called Erythropoietin (EPO) that leads to red blood cell deficiency and anemia. Recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) injections that are administered intravenously or subcutaneously is the current gold standard for treating CKD. The rhEPO injections have very short half-lives and thus demands frequent administration with a risk of high endogenous EPO levels leading to severe side effects that could prove fatal. To this effect, this work provides a novel approach of using lamellar inorganic solids with a brucite-like structure for controlling the release of protein therapeutics such as rhEPO in injectable hydrogels. The nanoengineered injectable system was formulated by incorporating two-dimensional layered double hydroxide (LDH) clay materials with a high surface area into alginate hydrogels for sustained delivery. The inclusion of LDH in the hydrogel network not only improved the mechanical properties of the hydrogels (5–30 times that of alginate hydrogel) but also exhibited a high binding affinity to proteins without altering their bioactivity and conformation. Furthermore, the nanoengineered injectable hydrogels (INHs) demonstrated quick gelation, injectability, and excellent adhesion properties on human skin. The in vitro release test of EPO from conventional alginate hydrogels (Alg-Gel) showed 86% EPO release within 108 h while INHs showed greater control over the initial burst and released only 24% of EPO in the same incubation time. INH-based ink was successfully used for 3D printing, resulting in scaffolds with good shape fidelity and stability in cell culture media. Controlled release of EPO from INHs facilitated superior angiogenic potential in ovo (chick chorioallantoic membrane) compared to Alg-Gel. When subcutaneously implanted in albino mice, the INHs formed a stable gel in vivo without inducing any adverse effects. The results suggest that the proposed INHs in this study can be utilized as a minimally invasive injectable platform or as 3D printed patches for the delivery of protein therapeutics to facilitate tissue regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number405
JournalJournal of Nanobiotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • 3D printing
  • Erythropoietin
  • Injectable hydrogels
  • Sustained release
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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