Self-Healing of Hyaluronic Acid to Improve In Vivo Retention and Function.


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.