The high demand for tissue engineering scaffolds capable of inducing bone regeneration using minimally invasive techniques prompts the need for the development of new biomaterials. Herein, we investigate the ability of Alginate incorporated with the fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl-diphenylalanine (FmocFF) peptide composite hydrogel to serve as a potential biomaterial for bone regeneration. We demonstrate that the incorporation of the self-assembling peptide, FmocFF, in sodium alginate leads to the production of a rigid, yet injectable, hydrogel without the addition of cross-linking agents. Scanning electron microscopy reveals a nanofibrous structure which mimics the natural bone extracellular matrix. The formed composite hydrogel exhibits thixotropic behavior and a high storage modulus of approximately 10 kPA, as observed in rheological measurements. The in vitro biocompatibility tests carried out with MC3T3-E1 preosteoblast cells demonstrate good cell viability and adhesion to the hydrogel fibers. This composite scaffold can induce osteogenic differentiation and facilitate calcium mineralization, as shown by Alizarin red staining, alkaline phosphatase activity and RT-PCR analysis. The high biocompatibility, excellent mechanical properties and similarity to the native extracellular matrix suggest the utilization of this hydrogel as a temporary three-dimensional cellular microenvironment promoting bone regeneration.
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