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Thermally-Induced Shape-Memory Behavior of Degradable Gelatin-Based Networks

Institute of Active Polymers and Berlin-Brandenburg Center of Regenerative Therapies, Helm-holtz-Zentrum Hereon, 14513 Teltow, Germany
Institute of Chemistry, University of Potsdam, 14476 Potsdam, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marta Fernández-García
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(11), 5892;
Received: 22 April 2021 / Revised: 25 May 2021 / Accepted: 25 May 2021 / Published: 31 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Frontiers in Polymeric Materials)
Shape-memory hydrogels (SMH) are multifunctional, actively-moving polymers of interest in biomedicine. In loosely crosslinked polymer networks, gelatin chains may form triple helices, which can act as temporary net points in SMH, depending on the presence of salts. Here, we show programming and initiation of the shape-memory effect of such networks based on a thermomechanical process compatible with the physiological environment. The SMH were synthesized by reaction of glycidylmethacrylated gelatin with oligo(ethylene glycol) (OEG) α,ω-dithiols of varying crosslinker length and amount. Triple helicalization of gelatin chains is shown directly by wide-angle X-ray scattering and indirectly via the mechanical behavior at different temperatures. The ability to form triple helices increased with the molar mass of the crosslinker. Hydrogels had storage moduli of 0.27–23 kPa and Young’s moduli of 215–360 kPa at 4 °C. The hydrogels were hydrolytically degradable, with full degradation to water-soluble products within one week at 37 °C and pH = 7.4. A thermally-induced shape-memory effect is demonstrated in bending as well as in compression tests, in which shape recovery with excellent shape-recovery rates Rr close to 100% were observed. In the future, the material presented here could be applied, e.g., as self-anchoring devices mechanically resembling the extracellular matrix. View Full-Text
Keywords: shape-memory hydrogel; active polymer; biopolymer; mechanical properties; degradation shape-memory hydrogel; active polymer; biopolymer; mechanical properties; degradation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Neffe, A.T.; Löwenberg, C.; Julich-Gruner, K.K.; Behl, M.; Lendlein, A. Thermally-Induced Shape-Memory Behavior of Degradable Gelatin-Based Networks. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22, 5892.

AMA Style

Neffe AT, Löwenberg C, Julich-Gruner KK, Behl M, Lendlein A. Thermally-Induced Shape-Memory Behavior of Degradable Gelatin-Based Networks. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021; 22(11):5892.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Neffe, Axel T., Candy Löwenberg, Konstanze K. Julich-Gruner, Marc Behl, and Andreas Lendlein. 2021. "Thermally-Induced Shape-Memory Behavior of Degradable Gelatin-Based Networks" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 22, no. 11: 5892.

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