To promote bone regeneration in vivo using critical-size calvarial defect model, hybrid hydrogel was prepared by mixing chitosan with hydroxyapatite (HA) and ultraviolet (UV) irradiation in situ. The hydrosoluble, UV-crosslinkable and injectable N-methacryloyl chitosan (N-MAC) was synthesized via single-step N-acylation reaction. The chemical structure was confirmed by 1H-NMR and FTIR spectroscopy. N-MAC hydrogel presented a microporous structure with pore sizes ranging from 10 to 60 μm. Approximately 80% cell viability of N-MAC hydrogel against encapsulated 3T3 cell indicated that N-MAC is an emerging candidate for mimicking native extracellular matrix (ECM). N-MAC hydrogel hybridized with HA was used to accelerate regeneration of calvarial bone using rabbit model. The effects of hybrid hydrogels to promote bone regeneration were evaluated using critical size calvarial bone defect model. The healing effects of injectable hydrogels with/without HA for bone regeneration were investigated by analyzing X-ray image after 4 or 6 weeks. The results showed that the regenerated new bone for N-MAC 100 was significantly greater than N-MAC without HA and untreated controls. The higher HA content in N-MAC/HA hybrid hydrogel benefited the acceleration of bone regeneration. About 50% closure of defect site after 6 weeks postimplantation demonstrated potent osteoinductivity of N-MAC 100 UV-crosslinkable and injectable N-MAC/HA hybrid hydrogel would allow serving as a promising biomaterial for bone regeneration using the critical-size calvarial defect.

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