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Biomacromolecules. 2003 May-Jun;4(3):497-503.

Synthesis and hydration properties of pH-sensitive p(HEMA)-based hydrogels containing 3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl methacrylate.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University, P.O. Box 843038, 601 West Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23284-3038, USA.


An amphiphilic hydrogel network was synthesized from a cross-linked poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) backbone copolymerized with the monomers 3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl methacrylate (PMA) and dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA) using tetraethylene glycol diacrylate (TEGDA) as cross-linker and using the radical initiator system comprising N,N,N',N'-tetramethylethylenediamine and ammonium peroxydisulfate. The degree of hydration of hydrogel slabs was investigated as functions of varying monomer compositions and cross-link density and as a function of pH and ionic strength of the bathing medium. As much as a 45% increase in hydration was observed for hydrogels containing 15 mol % DMAEMA upon reducing the pH of the bathing medium from 8.0 to 2.0. This confirms the pH-modulated swelling of amine-containing hydrogels. Increasing the concentration of TEGDA cross-linker from 3 to 12 mol % in a 10 mol % DMAEMA-containing hydrogel resulted in only a 10% reduction in the degree of hydration of the gel. There was, however, a 40-50% reduction in the degree of hydration of a 15 mol % DMAEMA hydrogel upon increasing the molar composition of PMA from 0 up to 20 mol %. The presence of PMA confers hydrophobic character that reduces hydration and introduces additional cross-links that reduce network mesh size. The water content of the hydrogel was consistently higher in buffers of lower ionic strength. The reversible pH-dependent swelling observed in these studies, along with the control of cross-link density afforded by the PMA component, endows these biocompatible materials with potential for use in pH-controlled drug delivery of more hydrophobic drugs and present new compositions for in vitro and in vivo biocompatibility studies.

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