Thiolated human serum albumin cross-linked dextran hydrogels as a macroscale delivery system†
Hydrogels play an important role in macroscale delivery systems by enabling the transport of cells and molecules. Here we present a facile and benign method to prepare a dextran-based hydrogel (Dex–sHSA) using human serum albumin (HSA) as a simultaneous drug carrier and covalent cross-linker. Drug binding affinity of the albumin protein was conserved in the thiolation step using 2-iminothiolane and subsequently, in the in situ gelation step. Oscillation rheometry studies confirmed the formation of a three-dimensional viscoelastic network upon reaction of dextran and the HSA protein. The mechanical properties of Dex–sHSA hydrogel can be tuned by the protein concentration, and the degree of thiolation of sHSA. Sustained release of hydrophobic drugs, such as ibuprofen, paclitaxel and dexamethasone, from the Dex–sHSA network was shown over one week. Hence, this albumin-based dextran hydrogel system demonstrates its potential as a macroscale delivery system of hydrophobic therapeutics for a wide range of biomedical applications.