Indexed on: 13 Jul '18Published on: 12 Jul '18Published in: ACS Macro Letters
Boronic ester, one typical example of dynamic covalent bonds, has presented great potential to prepare self-healing hydrogels. However, most of currently reported hydrogels based on boronic esters are formed at pH > 8, which impeded their further use in physiological conditions. In this study, we designed two kinds of zwitterionic copolymers with benzoxaborole and catechol pendant groups, respectively. Owing to the lower pKa value of benzoxaborole (7.2), gelation can happen easily at pH 7.4 PBS after mixing these two copolymers due to efficient formation of benzoxaborole-catechol complexations. The resulting hydrogels exhibited excellent self-healing property as well as dual pH/sugar responsiveness due to the dynamic nature of boronic ester. Moreover, benefiting from the cell membrane bioinspired 2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine (MPC)-based polymeric matrix, the hydrogel was further investigated for 3D cell encapsulation. The combination of biocompatible zwitterionic polymers with dynamic benzoxaborole-catechol complexation makes the hydrogels a promising platform for diverse potential bioapplications like drug delivery and tissue engineering.