Chemically-Induced Cross-Linking of Peptidic Fibrils for Scaffolding Polymeric Particles and Macrophages
EAK16-II (EAK) is a self-assembling peptide (SAP) that forms β-sheets and β-fibrils through ionic-complementary interactions at physiological ionic strengths. The soft materials can be injected in vivo, creating depots of drugs and cells for rendering pharmacological and biological actions. The scope of the applications of EAK is sought to extend to tissues through which the flow of extracellular fluid tends to be limited. In such anatomical locales the rate and extent of the fibrilization are limited insofar as drug delivery and cellular scaffolding would be impeded. A method is generated utilizing a carbodiimide cross-linker by which EAK fibrils are pre-assembled yet remain injectable soft materials. It is hypothesized that the resulting de novo covalent linkages enhance the stacking of the β-sheet bilayers, thereby increasing the lengths of the fibrils and the extent of their cross-linking, as evidenced in Diffuse Reflectance Infrared Fourier Transform (DRIFT) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy analyses. The cross-linked EAK (clEAK) retains polymeric microspheres with an average diameter of 1 µm. Macrophages admixed with clEAK remain viable and do not produce the inflammatory mediator interleukin-1β. These results indicate that clEAK should be investigated further as a platform for delivering particles and cells in vivo.