Multicomponent Peptide Hydrogels as an Innovative Platform for Cell-Based Tissue Engineering in the Dental Pulp

  • Afami Marina E
  • El Karim Ikhlas
  • About Imad
  • Krasnodembskaya Anna D
  • Laverty Garry
  • Lundy Fionnuala T

  • Antibacterial
  • Antimicrobial
  • Biocompatibility
  • Biofilm
  • Cytokine
  • Dental pulp
  • Growth factor
  • Hydrogel
  • Oral pathogen
  • Secretome


In light of the increasing levels of antibiotic resistance, nanomaterials and novel biologics are urgently required to manage bacterial infections. To date, commercially available self-assembling peptide hydrogels have not been studied extensively for their ability to inhibit micro-organisms relevant to tissue engineering sites such as dental root canals. In this work, we assess the biocompatibility of dental pulp stem/stromal cells with commercially available multicomponent peptide hydrogels. We also determine the effects of dental pulp stem/stromal cell (DPSC) culture in hydrogels on growth factor/cytokine expression. Furthermore, to investigate novel aspects of self-assembling peptide hydrogels, we determine their antimicrobial activity against the oral pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Fusobacterium nucleatum. We show that self-assembling peptide hydrogels and hydrogels functionalized with the adhesion motif Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) are biocompatible with DPSCs, and that cells grown in 3D hydrogel cultures produce a discrete secretome compared with 2D-cultured cells. Furthermore, we show that soluble peptides and assembled hydrogels have antimicrobial effects against oral pathogens. Given their antibacterial activity against oral pathogens, biocompatibility with dental pulp stem/stromal cells and enhancement of an angiogenic secretome, multicomponent peptide hydrogels hold promise for translational use.