Thixotropic Red Microalgae Sulfated Polysaccharide-Peptide Composite Hydrogels as Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering

Michal Halperin-Sternfeld, Gal Netanel Liberman, Raha Kannan, Francesca Netti, Peter X. Ma, Shoshana Malis Arad, Lihi Adler-Abramovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sulfated polysaccharides of red marine microalgae have recently gained much attention for biomedical applications due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, their low mechanical properties limit their use in tissue engineering. Herein, to enhance the mechanical properties of the sulfated polysaccharide produced by the red marine microalga, Porphyridium sp. (PS), it was integrated with the fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl diphenylalanine (FmocFF) peptide hydrogelator. Transparent, stable hydrogels were formed when mixing the two components at a 1:1 ratio in three different concentrations. Electron microscopy showed that all hydrogels exhibited a nanofibrous structure, mimicking the extracellular matrix. Furthermore, the hydrogels were injectable, and tunable mechanical properties were obtained by changing the hydrogel concentration. The composite hydrogels allowed the sustained release of curcumin which was controlled by the change in the hydrogel concentration. Finally, the hydrogels supported MC3T3-E1 preosteoblasts viability and calcium deposition. The synergy between the sulfated polysaccharide, with its unique bioactivities, and FmocFF peptide, with its structural and mechanical properties, bears a promising potential for developing novel tunable scaffolds for tissue engineering that may allow cell differentiation into various lineages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1388
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • biomaterials
  • hydrogels
  • sulfated polysaccharides
  • tissue engineering


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