Injectable Networks Based on a Hybrid Synthetic/Natural Polymer Gel and Self-Assembling Peptides Functioning as Reinforcing Fillers

Polymers (Basel). 2023 Jan 26;15(3):636. doi: 10.3390/polym15030636.


Double network (DN) hydrogels composed of self-assembling low-molecular-weight gelators and a hybrid polymer network are of particular interest for many emerging biomedical applications, such as tissue regeneration and drug delivery. The major benefits of these structures are their distinct mechanical properties as well as their ability to mimic the hierarchical features of the extracellular matrix. Herein, we describe a hybrid synthetic/natural polymer gel that acts as the initial network based on sodium alginate and a copolymer, namely poly(itaconic anhydride-co-3,9-divinyl-2,4,8,10-tetraoxaspiro (5,5) undecane). The addition of amino acids and peptide-derived hydrogelators, such as Fmoc-Lys-Fmoc-OH and Fmoc-Gly-Gly-Gly-OH, to the already-made network gives rise to DNs crosslinked via non-covalent interactions. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and thermal analysis confirmed the formation of the DN and highlighted the interactions between the two component networks. Swelling studies revealed that the materials have an excellent water absorption capacity and can be classified as superabsorbent gels. The rheological properties were systematically investigated in response to different variables and showed that the prepared materials present injectability and a self-healing ability. SEM analysis revealed a morphology consisting of a highly porous and interconnected fibrous network. Finally, the biocompatibility was evaluated using the MTT assay on dermal fibroblasts, and the results indicated that the new structures are non-toxic and potentially useful for biomedical applications.

PMID:36771937 | PMC:PMC9920810 | DOI:10.3390/polym15030636


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