Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics Research Group

Comunication - Oral

Injectable Piezoelectric Drug Delivery System: a Novel Strategy to Target Tissue Regeneration


Improved design of efficient drug delivery systems (DDS) capable of responding to biological stimuli within an extended time window are a constant pursue in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Spurred by recent progress in materials chemistry and drug delivery, stimuli-responsive systems that deliver a drug in spatial-, temporal- and dosage-controlled fashions have become possible. Polyhydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate (PHBV) is a natural and biodegradable polymer with piezoelectric properties, i.e. capable of suffering electric polarization due to mechanical stress, and vice-versa. This property is exhibited in a great number of biological systems, such as deoxyribose nucleic acid, proteins, polysaccharides, and soft or hard tissues (associated with the presence of oriented fibrous proteins in their composition). Moreover, naturally occurring electric currents are an intrinsic property of human tissues, likely to act as an integrator of cells organization, development as well as tissue regeneration. Under this context, it is herein reported the development of an injectable piezoelectric DDS system incorporating hydrophilic and hydrophobic model active agents with targeted and stimuli-sensitive features aiming to modulate the defined biological functions and tackle tissue regeneration.

Microparticles of PHBV incorporating a model protein, Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA), and glucocorticoid, Dexamethasone (Dex), were produced by a double emulsification-solvent evaporation method with modifications. Variations of the composition of the organic phase during processing allowed tuning surface topography, size distribution and core porosity of the PHBV microparticles and, thus, the in vitro release profile of Dex, but not of BSA, which followed typical first order release kinetics independently of the conditions and the incorporated agent. Uncontrollable displacements that greatly affects the concentration of active agents at the target tissues are among a major limitation of the use of microparticulate DDS. Under this context an innovative approach that tackle the reduced residence time of microparticles at the injection site, and takes advantage of its piezoelectric character to release the loaded active agents was designed. A hybrid DDS that combines PHBV microparticles with injectable gellan gum hydrogels, already proposed by us for diverse tissue engineering applications, responsive to electrical stimulation, were successfully achieved. By varying the properties of the hydrogel and the intensity of the provided signal, we were able to design systems with different release profiles, which can then be tuned according to tissue and pathology/injury specific requirements.

In this sense, the development of an in situ gelling piezoelectric drug delivery system, which combines a localized delivery of model active cues with different physicochemical features, was achieved representing a versatile tool to therapeutically induce tissue repair or function restoration.

2nd POLARIS Workshop
Injectable Drug Delivery Systems, Piezoelectricity, Polyhydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate
Open Access
Peer Reviewed
Year of Publication
Date Published
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