Tuning the antimicrobial activity of low molecular weight hydrogels using dopamine autoxidation†
We present a method to trigger the formation of dipeptide-based hydrogels by the simple addition of dopamine. Dopamine undergoes oxidation in air, reducing the pH to induce gelation. The production of polydopamine and release of reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide confers antimicrobial activity. Gel stiffness can be controlled by modulating the initial starting pH of the gelator solution. We can use this method to tune the antimicrobial activity of the gels, with gels that are less stiff demonstrating increased bactericidal efficacy against Gram-positive bacteria.