Non-reversible heat-induced gelation of a biocompatible Fmoc-hexapeptide in water†
Hydrogel materials which respond to changes in temperature are widely applicable for injectable drug delivery or tissue engineering applications. Here, we report the unsual heat-induced gelation behaviour of a low molecular weight gelator based on an Fmoc-hexapeptide, Fmoc-GFFRGD. We show that Fmoc-GFFRGD forms kinetically stable fibres when mixed with divalent cations (e.g. Ca2+). Gelation of the mixture occurs upon heating of the mixture which enables electrostatic screening by the divalent cations and hydrophobic collapse of the fibres to give a self-supporting hydrogel network that shows good biocompatibility with L929 fibroblast cells. This work highlights a unique mechanism to initiate heat-induced gelation which should find opportunities as a gelation trigger for injectable hydrogels or fundamental self-assembly applications.
- This article is part of the themed collection: The Mechanics of Supramolecular Chemistry