Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

PhD Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical Engineering


Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering


Vernengo, Andrea Jennifer

Committee Member 1

Iftode, Cristina

Committee Member 2

Kadlowec, Jennifer


Bioadhesive, Hydrogel, Intervertebral disc, Mesenchymal stem cells, Nucleus pulposus, Tissue engineering


Intervertebral disk prostheses


Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering


Lower back pain (LBP) affects the worldwide population and can be attributed to the degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD). The IVD is composed of a central nucleus pulposus (NP), a peripheral annulus fibrosus (AF), and adjacent cartilage endplates (CEPs). IVD degeneration is characterized by proteoglycan loss, tissue dehydration, and decreased hydrostatic pressure. In this work, the use of an injectable bioadhesive hydrogel composite for replacement of the degenerated NP was investigated.

Results indicate that the composite exhibits similar mechanical properties to the NP, adheres to AF tissue, and supports encapsulated mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) differentiation toward an NP-like phenotype in vitro. Additionally, the composite restores biomechanical properties such as range of motion and stiffness and resists expulsion from the injured porcine IVD ex vivo. Lastly, the composite was able to retain viable MSCs which displayed region-specific deposition of biomimetic matrix within the degenerated bovine IVD ex vivo. Tissue engineering scaffolds will play an important clinical role in restoring biomechanical function and prevent transplanted cell leakage, yet none have been designed with adhesive properties to secure the implant in situ. This work is significant in that it represents the development of a novel adhesive that potentially meets the mechanical and adhesive requirements for achieving cellular compatibility, scaffold function, and tissue integration.