Evaluation of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors Loaded Injectable Hydrogels for Improving Connexin43 Gap Junction Intercellular Communication

Li Zheng, Wen Shi, Bo Liu, Bin Duan, Paul L. Sorgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Myocardial infarction (MI) is one of the leading causes of death in the developed world, and the loss of cardiomyocytes plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of heart failure. Implicated in this process is a decrease in gap junction intercellular communication due to remodeling of Connexin43 (Cx43). We previously identified that intraperitoneal injection of the Pyk2 inhibitor PF4618433 reduced infarct size, maintained Cx43 at the intercalated disc in left ventricle hypertrophic myocytes, and improved cardiac function in an MI animal model of heart failure. With the emergence of injectable hydrogels as a therapeutic toward the regeneration of cardiac tissue after MI, here, we provide proof of concept that the release of tyrosine kinase inhibitors from hydrogels could have beneficial effects on cardiomyocytes. We developed an injectable hydrogel consisting of thiolated hyaluronic acid and P123-maleimide micelles that can incorporate PF4618433 as well as the Src inhibitor Saracatinib and achieved sustained release (of note, Src activates Pyk2). Using neonatal rat ventricular myocytes in the presence of a phorbol ester, endothelin-1, or phenylephrine to stimulate cardiac hypertrophy, the release of PF4618433 from the hydrogel had the same ability to decrease Cx43 tyrosine phosphorylation and maintain Cx43 localization at the plasma membrane as when directly added to the growth media. Additional beneficial effects included decreases in apoptosis, the hypertrophic marker atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), and serine kinases upregulated in hypertrophy. Finally, the presence of both PF4618433 and Saracatinib further decreased the level of ANP and apoptosis than each inhibitor alone, suggesting that a combinatorial approach may be most beneficial. These findings provide the groundwork to test if tyrosine kinase inhibitor release from hydrogels will have a beneficial effect in an animal model of MI-induced heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1985-1998
Number of pages14
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 17 2024


  • Cx43
  • Pyk2
  • Src
  • gap junctions
  • injectable hydrogel
  • tyrosine kinase inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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