Effect of poly(ethylene glycol)-derived crosslinkers on the properties of thermosensitive hydrogels


Three crosslinkers, poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), glycerol ethoxylate triacrylate (GETA) and citric acid-(PEG acrylate)3 (CA-PEGTA) derived from poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) were synthesized at first. The three series of poly (N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) hydrogels were prepared by photopolymerization with the crosslinkers and compared with a hydrogel based on commercial crosslinker, N,N′-methylene bis-acrylamide (NMBA). The influence of the crosslinker structures and contents on the swelling behaviour, mechanical properties, and drug release of the hydrogels was investigated. The results showed that the hydrogels based on PEGDA and NMBA exhibited the highest and the lowest swelling ratio, respectively. The content of crosslinker of all hydrogel series showed good thermosensitivity and thermo-reversibility. The critical gel transition temperature (CGTT) appeared at 32 °C for the hydrogel based on NMBA, but appeared at about 34 °C for other hydrogels due to higher hydrophilicity of the crosslinker. In the mechanical properties, three-arms crosslinker GETA and CA-PEGTA led to higher mechanical strength than a linear crosslinker PEGDA. A hydrogel based on GETA (NG6) showed the highest shear modulus of 656.9 kPa and Young’s modulus of 1655.0 kPa. The hydrogels containing higher content of crosslinker revealed lower swelling ratio and higher mechanical strength. In the drug release, the hydrogels with higher swelling ratios showed higher drug absorbed. The highest release percentage of caffeine and vitamin B12 for hydrogel based on PEGDA (NP6) could reach 68.3% and 75.4%, respectively. In addition, the bound water and toxicity of the hydrogels were also investigated.

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The authors thank the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of China for support under Grant MOST103-2221-E-036-037- and Tatung University for their financial support under Grant B103-C01-005

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Correspondence to Wen-Fu Lee.

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Wu, W., Huang, Y. & Lee, W. Effect of poly(ethylene glycol)-derived crosslinkers on the properties of thermosensitive hydrogels. Iran Polym J 29, 679–691 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13726-020-00831-7

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  • Poly(ethylene glycol)
  • Hydrogels
  • Drug release
  • Thermosensitive
  • Crosslinkers