This study demonstrated a chitosan (CS)/polyglutamate (PG) polyelectrolyte complex (PEC) hydrogel combined with spherical hydroxyapatite (HAp) particles as an injectable dermal filler for soft-tissue augmentation. The CS/PG PEC hydrogel with oppositely charged ionic cross-linking, a high gel content, and low degradation rate was introduced as a carrier to achieve high shape and volume stability. An MTT assay indicated that the CS/PG PEC had satisfactory cell biocompatibility. This PEC/HAp hydrogel showed good structural integrity in a PBS solution for up to 60 days. Clinical manageability was indexed by an injection force measurement through sterile 27-gauge needles using a texture analyzer. In an animal study, 0.2 mL of the PEC and PEC/hydroxyapatite (HAp) were implanted within the dorsal dermis of a swine ear. Injected tissue areas were biopsied 2 weeks, and 2 and 6 months after the injection. According to the histomorphometric results, the PEC and PEC/HAp groups showed percentages of retention of the maximum height of the cross-section of about 44% and 73% at 6 months. New collagen was observed in the central position indicating a possible collagenesis effect. These results suggest that this PEC/HAp system can be used as an alternative for soft-tissue augmentation.
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