Successful tissue regeneration requires a scaffold with tailorable biodegradability, tissue-like mechanical properties, structural similarity to extracellular matrix (ECM), relevant bioactivity, and cytocompatibility. In recent years, injectable hydrogels have spurred increasing attention in translational medicine as a result of their tunable physicochemical properties in response to the surrounding environment. Furthermore, they have the potential to be implanted via minimally invasive procedures while enabling deep penetration, which is considered a feasible alternative to traditional open surgical procedures. However, polymeric hydrogels may lack sufficient stability and bioactivity in physiological environments. Composite hydrogels containing bioactive glass (BG) particulates, synergistically combining the advantages of their constituents, have emerged as multifunctional biomaterials with tailored mechanical properties and biological functionalities. This review paper highlights the recent advances in injectable composite hydrogel systems based on biodegradable polymers and BGs. The influence of BG particle geometry, composition, and concentration on gel formation, rheological and mechanical behavior as well as hydration and biodegradation of injectable hydrogels have been discussed. The applications of these composite hydrogels in tissue engineering are additionally described, with particular attention to bone and skin. Finally, the prospects and current challenges in the development of desirable injectable bioactive hydrogels for tissue regeneration are discussed to outline a roadmap for future research. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Developing a biomaterial that can be readily available for surgery, implantable via minimally invasive procedures, and be able to effectively stimulate tissue regeneration is one of the grand challenges in modern biomedicine. This review summarizes the state-of-the-art of injectable bioactive glass-polymer composite hydrogels to address several challenges in bone and soft tissue repair. The current limitations and the latest evolutions of these composite biomaterials are critically examined, and the roles of design parameters, such as composition, concentration, and size of the bioactive phase, and polymer-glass interactions on the rheological, mechanical, biological, and overall functional performance of hydrogels are detailed. Existing results and new horizons are discussed to provide a state-of-the-art review that may be useful for both experienced and early-stage researchers in the biomaterials community.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.