Convergent advances in the field of soft matter, macromolecular chemistry, and engineering have led to the development of biomaterials that possess autonomous, adaptive, and self-healing characteristics similar to living systems. These rationally designed biomaterials can surpass the capabilities of their parent material. Herein, the modification of hyaluronic acid (HA) to exhibit self-healing properties is described, and its physical and biological function both in vitro and in vivo is studied. The in vitro findings showed that self-healing HA designed to undergo self-repair improves lubrication, enhances free radical scavenging, and attenuates enzymatic degradation compared to unmodified HA. Longitudinal imaging following intraarticular injection of self-healing HA shows improved in vivo retention despite its low molecular weight. Concomitant with these functions, intraarticular injection of self-healing HA mitigates anterior cruciate ligament injury-mediated cartilage degeneration in rodents. This proof-of-concept study shows how incorporation of functional properties such as self-healing can be used to surpass the existing capabilities of biolubricants.
Self-Healing of Hyaluronic Acid to Improve In Vivo Retention and Function.