Journal of Biomedical Materials Research. Part A
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Hydrogels can be fabricated and designed to exert direct control over stem cells' adhesion and differentiation. In this study, we have investigated the use of polydopamine (pDA)-treatment as a binding platform for bioactive compounds to create a versatile gelatin-alginate (Gel-Alg) hydrogel for tissue engineering applications. Precisely, pDA was used to modify the surface properties of the hydrogel and better control the adhesion and osteogenic differentiation of human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs). pDA enabled the adsorption of different types of bioactive molecules, including a model osteoinductive drug (dexamethasone) as well as a model pro-angiogenic peptide (QK). The pDA treatment efficiently retained the drug and the peptide compared to the untreated hydrogel and proved to be effective in controlling the morphology, cell area, and osteogenic differentiation of hASCs. Overall, the findings of this study confirm the efficacy of pDA treatment as a valuable strategy to modulate the biological properties of biocompatible Gel-Alg hydrogels and further extend their value in regenerative medicine.