Chitosan-Based Thermosensitive Hydrogel for Controlled Drug Delivery to the Temporomandibular Joint

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Abstract

Intra-articular injections of hyaluronic acid (HA) and corticosteroids have been extensively used in treating temporomandibular disorders. However, rapid clearance from the site of injection is a major concern that is commonly managed by frequent dosing, which is not without complications. This study aimed to determine the suitability of thermosensitive chitosan-based hydrogels for intra-articular controlled release of drugs in the rabbit temporomandibular joint (TMJ). A series of hydrogels were prepared using different chitosan (Ch) to β-glycerophosphate (β-GP) ratios. The gelation time, swelling ratio, the shape, and surface morphology of the prepared gels were investigated to select the formulation with optimum characteristics. The left TMJ in 13 adult male New Zealand white rabbits was injected with 0.2 mL of Chitosan/β-glycerophosphate/HA while the right TMJ was injected with 0.2 mL of control solution of HA. Hyaluronic acid concentrations in experimental and control groups were measured using Hyaluronan Quantikine Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay Kit. In vitro characterization showed that both the Ch:β-GP ratio and incorporation of HA had a significant effect on gelation time, degree of swelling, and surface morphology of the hydrogels. No morphological changes were observed in the joints in both groups. The mean concentration of HA in the experimental joints after 7 days (1339.79 ± 244.98 μg/g) was significantly higher than that in the control (474.52 ± 79.36 μg/g). In conclusion, the chitosan-based thermosensitive hydrogel can be considered as a promising controlled drug release system to the TMJ in a rabbit model that would potentially overcome many of the current limitations of intra-articular formulations.

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