Polymer scaffolds play an important role in tissue engineering applications. Poly(ethylene glycol) based hydrogels have received a lot of attention in this field because of their high biocompatibility and ease of processing. However, in many cases they do not exhibit proper tissue invasion and nutrient transport because of their dense structure. In the present work, several approaches were developed and compared to each other to produce interconnected macroporous poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels by including different types of porogens in the photocrosslinking reaction. The swelling capacity of the resulting hydrogels was analyzed and compared to non-porous hydrogel samples. Moreover, the obtained materials were characterized by means of mechanical properties and porosity using rheometry, scanning electron microscopy, and mercury intrusion porosimetry. Results showed that interconnected and uniform pores were obtained when a porogen template was used during hydrogel fabrication by photocrosslinking. On the other side, when the porogen particles were dispersed into the macromer solution before matrix photocrosslinking the interconnexion was negligible. The templates must be dissolved before the hydrogel's cell-seeding in vitro, while the dispersed porogen can be used in situ in the in vitro seeding tests.
Sáez-Martínez, V., Atorrasagasti, G., Olalde, B., Madarieta, I., Morin, F., & Garagorri, N. (2013). Fabrication and characterization of macroporous poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels generated by several types of porogens. International Journal of Polymeric Materials, 62(9), 502-508. https://doi.org/10.1080/00914037.2012.734353