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Biomacromolecules. 2004 Jan-Feb;5(1):162-8.

Novel chitosan-based films cross-linked by genipin with improved physical properties.

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Institute of Polymer Technology and Material Engineering, Loughborough University, LE11 3TU, United Kingdom.


Novel cross-linked chitosan-based films were prepared using the solution casting technique. A naturally occurring and nontoxic cross-linking agent, genipin, was used to form the chitosan and chitosan/poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) blend networks, where two types of PEO were used, one with a molecular weight of 20 000 g/mol (HPEO) and the other of 600 g/mol (LPEO). Genipin is used in traditional Chinese medicine and extracted from gardenia fruit. Importantly, it overcomes the problem of physiological toxicity inherent in the use of some common synthetic chemicals as cross-linking agents. The mechanical properties and the stability in water of cross-linked and un-crosslinked chitosan and chitosan/PEO blend films were investigated. It was shown that, compared to the transparent yellow, un-cross-linked chitosan/PEO blend films, the genipin-cross-linked chitosan-based film, blue in color, was more elastic, was more stable, and had better mechanical properties. Genipin-cross-linking produced chitosan networks that were insoluble in acidic and alkaline solutions but were able to swell in these aqueous media. The swelling characteristics of the films exhibit sensitivity to the environmental pH and temperature. The surface properties of the films were also examined by contact angle measurements using water and mixtures of water/ethanol. The results showed that, with the one exception of cross-linked pure chitosan in 100% water, the cross-linked chitosan and chitosan/PEO blends were more hydrophobic than un-crosslinked ones.

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