Myocardial infarction is a major cause of death worldwide and remains a social and healthcare burden. Injectable hydrogels with the ability to locally deliver drugs or cells to the damaged area can revolutionize the treatment of heart diseases. Herein, we formulate a thermo-responsive and injectable hydrogel based on conjugated chitosan/poloxamers for cardiac repair. To tailor the mechanical properties and electrical signal transmission, gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) with an average diameter of 50 nm were physically bonded to oxidized bacterial nanocellulose fibers (OBC) and added to the thermosensitive hydrogel at the ratio of 1% w/v. The prepared hydrogels have a porous structure with open pore channels in the range of 50–200 µm. Shear rate sweep measurements demonstrate a reversible phase transition from sol to gel with increasing temperature and a gelation time of 5 min. The hydrogels show a shear-thinning behavior with a shear modulus ranging from 1 to 12 kPa dependent on gold concentration. Electrical conductivity studies reveal that the conductance of the polymer matrix is 6 × 10−2 S/m at 75 mM Au. In vitro cytocompatibility assays by H9C2 cells show high biocompatibility (cell viability of >90% after 72 h incubation) with good cell adhesion. In conclusion, the developed nanocomposite hydrogel has great potential for use as an injectable biomaterial for cardiac tissue regeneration.
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