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Synthesis of multiresponsive and dynamic chitosan-based hydrogels for controlled release of bioactive molecules.


An inexpensive, facile, and environmentally benign method has been developed for the preparation of multiresponsive, dynamic, and self-healing chitosan-based hydrogels. A dibenzaldehyde-terminated telechelic poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) was synthesized and was allowed to form Schiff base linkages between the aldehyde groups and the amino groups in chitosan. Upon mixing the telechelic PEG with chitosan at 20 °C, hydrogels with solid content of 4-8% by mass were generated rapidly in <60 s. Because of the dynamic equilibrium between the Schiff base linkage and the aldehyde and amine reactants, the hydrogels were found to be self-healable and sensitive to many biochemical-stimuli, such as pH, amino acids, and vitamin B6 derivatives. In addition, chitosan could be digested by enzymes such as papain, leading to the decomposition of the hydrogels. Encapsulation and controlled release of small molecules such as rhodamine B and proteins such as lysozyme have been successfully carried out, demonstrating the potential biomedical applications of these chitosan-based dynamic hydrogels.