Cyborg Bionic Syst. 2022 Oct 7;2022:9852853. doi: 10.34133/2022/9852853. eCollection 2022.
The rapid development of medical micromotors draws a beautiful blueprint for the noninvasive or minimally invasive diagnosis and therapy. By combining stimuli-sensitive hydrogel materials, micromotors are bestowed with new characteristics such as stimuli-responsive shape transformation/morphing, excellent biocompatibility and biodegradability, and drug loading ability. Actuated by chemical fuels or external fields (e.g., magnetic field, ultrasound, light, and electric field), hydrogel-based stimuli-responsive (HBSR) micromotors can be utilized to load therapeutic agents into the hydrogel networks or directly grip the target cargos (e.g., drug-loaded particles, cells, and thrombus), transport them to sites of interest (e.g., tumor area and diseased tissues), and unload the cargos or execute a specific task (e.g., cell capture, targeted sampling, and removal of blood clots) in response to a stimulus (e.g., change of temperature, pH, ion strength, and chemicals) in the physiological environment. The high flexibility, adaptive capacity, and shape morphing property enable the HBSR micromotors to complete specific medical tasks in complex physiological scenarios, especially in confined, hard-to-reach tissues, and vessels of the body. Herein, this review summarizes the current progress in hydrogel-based medical micromotors with stimuli responsiveness. The thermo-responsive, photothermal-responsive, magnetocaloric-responsive, pH-responsive, ionic-strength-responsive, and chemoresponsive micromotors are discussed in detail. Finally, current challenges and future perspectives for the development of HBSR micromotors in the biomedical field are discussed.