Keratin hydrogel carrier system for simultaneous delivery of exogenous growth factors and muscle progenitor cells

Seth Tomblyn, Elizabeth L. Pettit Kneller, Stephen J. Walker, Mary D. Ellenburg, Christine J. Kowalczewski, Mark Van Dyke, Luke Burnett, Justin M. Saul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Ideal material characteristics for tissue engineering or regenerative medicine approaches to volumetric muscle loss (VML) include the ability to deliver cells, growth factors, and molecules that support tissue formation from a system with a tunable degradation profile. Two different types of human hair-derived keratins were tested as options to fulfill these VML design requirements: (1) oxidatively extracted keratin (keratose) characterized by a lack of covalent crosslinking between cysteine residues, and (2) reductively extracted keratin (kerateine) characterized by disulfide crosslinks. Human skeletal muscle myoblasts cultured on coatings of both types of keratin had increased numbers of multinucleated cells compared to collagen or MatrigelTM and adhesion levels greater than collagen. Rheology showed elastic moduli from 102 to 105 Pa and viscous moduli from 101 to 104 Pa depending on gel concentration and keratin type. Kerateine and keratose showed differing rates of degradation due to the presence or absence of disulfide crosslinks, which likely contributed to observed differences in release profiles of several growth factors. In vivo testing in a subcutaneous mouse model showed that keratose hydrogels can be used to deliver mouse muscle progenitor cells and growth factors. Histological assessment showed minimal inflammatory responses and an increase in markers of muscle formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-879
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • controlled release
  • growth factor
  • hydrogel
  • regenerative medicine
  • tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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