A simple strategy for robust preparation and characterisation of hydrogels derived from chitosan and amino functional monomers for biomedical applications†
Molecular interactions of amino functional (AF) monomers with chitosan (CS) lead to the formation of external stimuli responsive hydrogels (HGs). These have the potential to produce biomaterials with novel properties by a simple blending approach. Six independent AF monomers such as diethylenetriamine (DETA), bis(3-aminopropyl)amine (BAPA), 3,3′-diamino-N-methyldipropyleamine (DAMPA), hexamethylenediamine (HMDA), N,N-dimethylethylamine (DMEA) and diethylamine (DEA) with distinct functional groups and chain lengths were designed to form stable HGs at physiological pH. Such AF monomers are able to form HGs within a short time (in the range from 10 to 19 seconds) by physically interacting with CS. This is an alternative to the covalently crosslinking reaction process, providing cost effective HG biomaterials. HG complexes were characterized by rheometry, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. The interaction between AF monomers and the CS polymer has been discussed and the results have been confirmed by FTIR analysis. The storage modulus (G′), loss modulus (G′′) and complex viscosity (η*) were evaluated for all HGs using a rheometer, and the ratios of CS and the particular AF monomer were optimized for stable HG formation. The swelling ratio was evaluated using a simple method and was found to be directly related to the structure of the AF monomer, pH and temperature. These HGs were utilised for encapsulation, and the release of active molecules (e.g., reactive red 120 (RR120) as a model compound) was measured at low pH 5.5, physiological pH 7.4 and high pH 9.5. The cell viability and cellular compatibility of the HGs were evaluated in vitro cell culture, demonstrating that all the five different types of HGs support cellular compatibility, attachment and growth. The physical mixing of AF monomers with CS is expedited for the development of new bespoke economically viable biomaterials.