NoThe prevalence of suboptimal outcome for surgical interventions in the treatment of full-thickness articular cartilage damage suggests that there is scope for a materials-based strategy to deliver a more durable repair. Given that the superficial layer of articular cartilage creates and sustains the tribological function of synovial joints, it is logical that candidate materials should have surface viscoelastic properties that mimic native articular cartilage. The present paper describes force spectroscopy analysis by nano-indentation to measure the elastic modulus of the surface of a novel poly(vinyl alcohol) hydrogel with therapeutic potential as a joint implant. More than 1 order of magnitude decrease in the elastic modulus was detected after adsorption of a hyaluronic acid layer onto the hydrogel, bringing it very close to previously reported values for articular cartilage. Covalent derivatization of the hydrogel surface with fibronectin facilitated the adhesion and growth of cultured rat tibial condyle chondrocytes as evidenced morphologically and by the observance of metachromatic staining with toluidine blue dye. The present results indicate that hydrogel materials with potential therapeutic benefit for injured and diseased joints can be engineered with surfaces with biomechanical properties similar to those of native tissue and are accepted as such by their constituent cell type
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