Characterization of Tissue Transglutaminase as a Potential Biomarker for Tissue Response toward Biomaterials

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Tissue transglutaminase (TGase 2) is proposed to be important for biomaterial-tissue interactions due to its presence and versatile functions in the extracellular environment. TGase 2 catalyzes the cross-linking of proteins through its Ca2+-dependent acyltransferase activity. Moreover, it enhances the interactions between fibronectin and integrins, which in turn mediates the adhesion, migration, and motility of the cells. TGase 2 is also a key player in the pathogenesis of fibrosis. In this study, we investigated whether TGase 2 is present at the biomaterial-tissue interface and might serve as an informative biomarker for the visualization of tissue response toward gelatin-based biomaterials. Two differently cross-linked hydrogels were used, which were obtained by the reaction of gelatin with lysine diisocyanate ethyl ester. The overall expression of TGase 2 by endothelial cells, macrophages, and granulocytes was partly influenced by contact to the hydrogels or their degradation products, although no clear correlation was evidenced. In contrast, the secretion of TGase 2 differed remarkably between the different cells, indicating that it might be involved in the cellular reaction toward gelatin-based hydrogels. The hydrogels were implanted subcutaneously in immunocompetent, hairless SKH1-Elite mice. Ex vivo immunohistochemical analysis of tissue sections over 112 days revealed enhanced expression of TGase 2 around the hydrogels, in particular at days 14 and 21 post-implantation. The incorporation of fluorescently labeled cadaverine derivatives for the detection of active TGase 2 was in accordance with the results of the expression analysis. The presence of an irreversible inhibitor of TGase 2 led to attenuated incorporation of the cadaverines, which verified the catalytic action of TGase 2. Our in vitro and ex vivo results verified TGase 2 as a potential biomarker for tissue response toward gelatin-based hydrogels. In vivo, no TGase 2 activity was detectable, which is mainly attributed to the unfavorable physicochemical properties of the cadaverine probe used.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5979-5989
Number of pages11
JournalACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2019

External IDs

PubMed 33405720
Scopus 85074160359


Research priority areas of TU Dresden


  • biomaterial-tissue interface, extracellular matrix modifying enzymes, gelatin-based hydrogels, optical imaging, polyamines