Gels that feature high internal porosity and have both high elasticity and ductility have potential to provide immediate load support and enable subsequent tissue regeneration of damaged soft tissue if combined with cells. Herein, we report results from a recent investigation of novel poly(methyl methacrylate-co-methacrylic acid), (PMMA-MAA) and poly(ethyl acrylate-co-methacrylic acid), (PEA-MAA) biodegradable, pH-sensitive particle gels which are with high porosity, elasticity and ductility. These gels formed at physiological pH range and are potentially injectable. The particles were prepared using solvent evaporation. They were functionalized by crosslinking the MAA groups of the particles via bis-amide formation with either cystamine (CYS) or 3,3′-dithiodipropionic acid dihydrazide (DTP) which simultaneously incorporated reversibility due to the presence of disulphide bonds within the crosslinker. The crosslinked particles were observed by dynamic light scattering to swell appreciably in size upon increasing the pH. Concentrated dispersions formed elastic and ductile physical gels within the physiological pH range. A key finding of this study was that for crosslinked particles of similar composition the formation of considerably more elastic and ductile gels was observed from the most lightly crosslinked particles. Furthermore, compared to the PMMA-MAA/CYS and PEA-MAA/CYS gels, those formed from DTP-crosslinked particles had higher elasticity, thicker pore walls and improved interconnectivity. For the PMMA-MAA/DTP gels an elastic modulus value as high as 100 kPa and a yield strain greater than 100% were observed for a gel containing only 5 wt% of particles. The improved mechanical properties of these new gel-forming dispersions imply that they now have good potential for future application as injectable gels for regenerative medicine.
This article is Open Access
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