Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Degree Level



Biomedical Engineering


Wolchok, Jeff



Under normal circumstances, skeletal muscle possesses the capacity to regenerate and heal via inflammatory and myogenic pathways. In cases of severe tissue loss or certain diseases, this capacity is lost, often resulting in loss of tissue function. Extracellular matrix (ECM), the protein scaffold which houses cells in physiological tissue, has been shown to have structural and chemical properties which influence cell migration and phenotype. This results in ECM’s capacity to encourage a regenerative response when implanted into severely damaged skeletal muscle. Additional advantages are apparent when an ECM scaffold is digested into a hydrogel, namely less invasive implantation via injection and the ability to better fill the injury cavity. While indications of therapeutic potential of ECM hydrogels are appearing, a greater understanding of their effect on skeletal muscle is necessary. This study investigated the impact of ECM hydrogel injection on skeletal muscle both as whole, functional tissue and at the genetic expression of the inflammatory and myogenic regenerative pathways. Rats were given five 0.1mL injections of saline in one tibialis anterior muscle (TA) and five 0.1mL injections of ECM hydrogel in the other TA. At timepoints of three days and two weeks, force measurements were taken and TAs were harvested. Gross TA morphology revealed no consistent difference between treatments, and peak force measurements averaged and normalized to body mass showed a decrease in force-creating potential in the ECM hydrogel TAs. qRT-PCR was performed, targeting inflammatory expression of IL-6 and IL-10 and myogenic expression of Pax7, MyoD, and myogenin (MyoG). While data was limited by small sample sizes and lack of statistical significance, results suggested a short-term inflammatory and myogenic response by the ECM hydrogel injections. Future studies would need to use larger sample sizes to produce statistically significant data to further explore these indicated results.