Modeling the controllable pH-responsive swelling and pore size of networked alginate based biomaterials
Semisynthetic network alginate polymer (SNAP), synthesized by acetalization of linear alginate with di-aldehyde, is a pH-responsive tetrafunctionally linked 3D gel network, and has potential application in oral delivery of protein therapeutics and active biologicals, and as tissue bioscaffold for regenerative medicine. A constitutive polyelectrolyte gel model based on non-Gaussian polymer elasticity, Flory–Huggins liquid lattice theory, and non-ideal Donnan membrane equilibria was derived, to describe SNAP gel swelling in dilute and ionic solutions containing uni-univalent, uni-bivalent, bi-univalent or bi-bi-valent electrolyte solutions. Flory–Huggins interaction parameters as a function of ionic strength and characteristic ratio of alginates of various molecular weights were determined experimentally to numerically predict SNAP hydrogel swelling. SNAP hydrogel swells pronouncedly to 1000 times in dilute solution, compared to its compact polymer volume, while behaving as a neutral polymer with limited swelling in high ionic strength or low pH solutions. The derived model accurately describes the pH-responsive swelling of SNAP hydrogel in acid and alkaline solutions of wide range of ionic strength. The pore sizes of the synthesized SNAP hydrogels of various crosslink densities were estimated from the derived model to be in the range of 30–450 nm which were comparable to that measured by thermoporometry, and diffusion of bovine serum albumin. The derived equilibrium swelling model can characterize hydrogel structure such as molecular weight between crosslinks and crosslinking density, or can be used as predictive model for swelling, pore size and mechanical properties if gel structural information is known, and can potentially be applied to other point-link network polyelectrolytes such as hyaluronic acid gel.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 30, Issue 30, October 2009, Pages 6119–6129