A new type of physically linked double-network hydrogel is synthesized by a simple, time-saving, facile, easily controlled, one-pot method. The resulting agar/polyacrylamide double-network hydrogels exhibit good mechanical properties, excellent recoverability, and a unique free-shapeable property, which makes them very promising hydrogels for load-bearing soft tissues.
Double network (DN) hydrogels as promising soft-and-tough materials intrinsically possess extraordinary mechanical strength and toughness due to their unique contrasting network structures, strong interpenetrating network entanglement, and efficient energy dissipation.
1 wileyonlinelibrary.com recoverability and self-healing property, due to their intrinsic structural heterogeneity and/or lack of effi cient energydissipation mechanisms, [ 13 ] which greatly limit their uses for other applications requiring highly mechanical properties such as cartilage, tendon, muscle, and blood vessel.Many efforts have been made to develop tough hydrogels with new microstructures and toughening mechanisms, such as double network hydrogels, [ 14 ] nanocomposite hydrogels, [ 15 ] sliding-ring hydrogels, [ 16 ] macromolecular microsphere composite hydrogels, [ 17 ] tetrapolyethylene glycol hydrogels, [ 18 ] hydrophobically associated hydrogels, [ 19,20 ] and dipole-dipole or hydrogen bonding enhanced hydrogels. [ 21,22 ] Among them, double network (DN) hydrogels have demonstrated their excellent mechanical properties. The existing knowledge of DN gels from synthesis methods, network structures, to toughening mechanisms mainly comes from chemically cross-linked DN gels. [ 23 ] Both networks with contrasting structures in DN gels are separately crosslinked by covalent bonds, [ 24 ] and the interpenetration of two contrasting networks makes the chemically linked DN gels both tough and soft, as evidenced by stiffness (elastic modulus of 0.1-1.0 MPa), strength (failure tensile stress of 1-10 MPa, strain 1000%-2000%, failure compressive stress 20-60 MPa, strain 90%-95%), and toughness (tearing fracture energy of 10 2 -10 3 J m −2 ). [ 23 ] Chemically linked DN gels have comparable toughness to cartilage and rubber. The toughening mechanisms are largely based on "sacrifi cial bonds" that break from the fi rst network to effectively dissipate energy, protect the second network, sustain stress, and store elastic energy, thus to reinforce the gels. However, the fracture of the fi rst network also causes irreversible and permanent bond breaks, making the gels very diffi cult to be repaired and recovered from damages and fatigues. [ 25 ] Thus, the internal fracture process of the fi rst network is considered to be critical for toughness enhancement, because relatively large damage zones formed in the fi rst network allow for more accumulated damage before macroscopic crack propagation occurs throughout whole networks. [ 26,27 ] Double network (DN) hydrogels with two strong asymmetric networks being chemically linked have demonstrated their excellent mechanical properties as the toughest hydrogels, but chemically linked DN gels often exhibit negligible fatigue resistance and poor self-healing property due to the irreversible chain breaks in covalent-linked networks. Here, a new design strategy is proposed and demonstrated to improve both fatigue resistance and self-healing property of DN gels by introducing a ductile, nonsoft gel with strong hydrophobic interactions as the second network. Based on this design strategy, a new type of fully physically cross-linked Agar/hydrophobically associated polyacrylamide (HPAAm) DN gels are synthesized by a simple one-pot method. Agar/ HPAAm DN gels exhibit excellent mech...
A novel “smart” multifunctional drug delivery system was successfully developed to respond to the up-regulated matrix metalloprotease 2 (MMP2) in the tumor microenvironment and improve cancer cell-specific delivery of loaded drugs. The system represents a surface-functionalized liposomal nanocarrier, for which two functional polyethylene glycol (PEG)-lipid conjugates were synthesized and characterized. The functionalized liposome was further modified with the tumor cell-specific anti-nucleosome monoclonal antibody (mAb 2C5). In the resulting system, several drug delivery strategies were combined in the same nanocarrier in a simple way and coordinated in an optimal fashion. The functions of the nanocarrier include: i) the hydrophilic and flexible long PEG chains to prevent nanocarrier non-specific interactions and prolong its circulation time; ii) a nanoscale size of the system that allows for its passive tumor targeting via the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect; iii) a mAb 2C5 to allow for the specific targeting of tumor cells; iv) a matrix metalloprotease 2-sensitive bond between PEG and lipid that undergoes cleavage in the tumor by the highly expressed extracellular MMP2 for the removal of PEG chains; v) The cell-penetrating peptide (TATp) triggering of the enhanced intracellular delivery of the system after long-chain PEG removal and exposure of the previously hidden surface-attached TATp. It is shown that such a design can enhance the targetability and internalization of nanocarriers in cancer cells.
In response to the challenges of cancer chemotherapeutics, including poor physicochemical properties, low tumor targeting, insufficient tumor cell internalization/bioavailability, and side effects, we developed a unique tumor-targeted micellar drug-delivery platform. Using paclitaxel as a model therapeutic, a nanopreparation composed of a matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2)-sensitive self-assembly PEG 2000-paclitaxel conjugate (as a prodrug and MMP 2-sensitive moiety), transactivating transcriptional activator peptide-PEG1000-phosphoethanolamine (PE) (a cell-penetrating enhancer), and PEG1000-PE (a nanocarrier building block) was prepared. Several major drug delivery strategies, including self-assembly, PEGylation, the enhanced permeability and retention effect, stimulus sensitivity, a cell-penetrating moiety, and the concept of prodrug, were used in design of this nanoparticle in a collaborative manner. The nanopreparation allowed superior cell internalization, cytotoxicity, tumor targeting, and antitumor efficacy in vitro and in vivo over its nonsensitive counterpart, free paclitaxel and conventional micelles. This uniquely engineered nanoparticle has potential for effective intracellular delivery of drug into cancer cells.nanomedicine | polymer-drug conjugate | polymeric micelles | multifunctional | non-small cell lung cancer D rug-loaded nanocarriers such as liposomes, micelles, polymeric and inorganic nanoparticles, and drug conjugates have demonstrated various advantages over free therapeutic molecules. These nanopreparations can be further engineered with functional moieties to improve their performance in terms of circulation longevity, targetability, cellular penetration, and stimulus sensitivity. The idea of a stimulus-sensitive drug delivery system is based on the abnormalities in the tumor microenvironment, such as acidic pH (1), altered redox potential (2), and up-regulated proteins (3). These internal conditions and external stimuli such as hyperthermia (4), magnetic field (4), and ultrasound (5) can be used to change the behavior of nanocarriers, resulting in an enhanced tumor targeting and antitumor effects.Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), especially MMP2, are known to be involved and overexpressed in many stages of human cancers (3, 6). Various MMP-sensitive substrates have been designed and showed stimulus responsiveness when used in drug delivery and imaging systems (3, 6). In our previous study, a synthetic octapeptide (GPLGIAGQ) was used as the MMP2-sensitive linker in a PEGylated liposomal nanocarrier that could trigger PEG deshielding and the resultant enhanced cell internalization (3).Although many targeted delivery strategies have shown drug disposition in the tumor, low cellular bioavailability of chemotherapeutics due to insufficient cellular internalization could represent another barrier. To enhance the target cell internalization, cell-penetrating proteins/peptides (CPPs) such as transactivating transcriptional activator peptide (TATp) have been used to modify the nanocarriers/drugs ...
To introduce pH sensitivity into the DSPE-PEG-based micellar system and achieve the quick intracellular drug release in response to the acidity in endosomes, a mixed polymeric micelle was developed based on three grafted copolymers, including 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-polyethylene glycol-2000(DSPE-PEG2000), antinucleosome antibody (mAb 2C5)-modified DSPE-PEG3400 (DSPE-PEG3400-2C5), and poly(ethylene glycol)-coupled poly(l-histidine) (PHIS-PEG2000). The structure of PHIS-PEG2000 was confirmed by 1H NMR spectroscopy. The mixed micelles with the diameter ranging from 110 to 135nm were prepared using a dialysis method against pH 7.6 PBS. Paclitaxel (PCT) was used as a model drug, the encapsulation efficiency and loading content of PCT were 88% and 5%, respectively. The mixed micelles composed with 50wt% of PHIS-PEG2000 showed the desired pH-dependent drug release property with much faster drug release than micelles without PHIS-PEG2000. At pH around 5.5, about 75–95% of the loaded drug was released within 2 h. The MTT assay showed PCT-loaded mixed micelles had higher cytotoxicity at pH 5.8 than that at pH 7.4. Further modification of the mixed micelles with anti-cancer nucleosome- specific monoclonal antibody 2C5 significantly increased their cellular uptake efficiency and cytotoxicity. Thus, the low pH in endosomes could trigger the PCT release from the pH-sensitive mixed micelles after 2C5-mediated endocytosis. The results of this study suggest that the mixed micelles (DSPE-PEG2000/DSPE-PEG3400-2C5/PHIS-PEG2000) could enhance the tumor cell-specific internalization and trigger the quick drug release, resulting in the improved anti-cancer efficacy.
Inflammatory response plays an important role in the pathogenesis of secondary damage after traumatic brain injury (TBI). The inflammasome is a multiprotein complex involved in innate immunity and a number of studies have suggested that the inflammasome plays a critical role in a host inflammatory signaling. Nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) is a key component of the NLRP3-inflammasome, which also includes apoptotic speck-containing protein (ASC) with a cysteine protease (caspase)-activating recruitment domain and pro-caspase1. Activation of the NLRP3-inflammasome causes the processing and release of the interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) and interleukin 18 (IL-18). Based on this, we hypothesized that the NLRP3-inflammasome could participate in the inflammatory response following TBI. However, the expression of NLRP3-inflammasome in cerebral cortex after TBI is not well known. Rats were randomly divided into control, sham and TBI groups (including 6 h, 1 day, 3 day and 7 day sub-group). TBI model was induced, and animals were sacrificed at each time point respectively. The expression of NLRP3-inflammasome was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, western blot and immunohistochemistry respectively. Immunofluorescent double labeling was performed to identify the cell types of NLRP3-inflammasome's expression. Moreover, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay was used to detect the alterations of IL-1β and IL-18 at each time point post-injury. The results showed that, TBI could induce assembly of NLRP3-inflammasome complex, increased expression of ASC, activation of caspase1, and processing of IL-1β and IL-18. These results suggested that NLRP3-inflammasome might play an important role in the inflammation induced by TBI and could be a target for TBI therapy.
Double network hydrogels (DN gels) are considered as one of the toughest soft materials. However, conventional chemically linked DN gels often lack high self-recovery and fatigue resistance properties due to permanent damage of covalent bonds upon deformation. Current strategies to improve selfrecovery and fatigue resistance properties of tough DN gels mainly focus on the manipulation of the first network structure. In this work, we proposed a new design strategy to synthesize a new type of Agar/PAMAAc-Fe 3+ DN gels, consisting of an agar gel as the first physical network and a PAMAAc-Fe 3+ gel as the second chemical−physical network. By introducing Fe 3+ ions into the second network to form strong coordination interactions, at optimal conditions, Agar/PAMAAc-Fe 3+ DN gels can achieve extremely high mechanical properties (σ f of ∼8 MPa, E of ∼8.8 MPa, and W of ∼16.7 MJ/m 3 ), fast self-recovery (∼50% toughness recovery after 1 min of resting), and good fatigue resistance compared to properties of cyclic loadings by simply controlling acrylic acid (AAc) content in the second network. The high toughness and fast recovery of Agar/PAMAAc-Fe 3+ DN gel is mainly attributed to energy dissipation through reversible noncovalent bonds in both networks (i.e., hydrogen bonds in the agar network and Fe 3+ coordination interactions in the PAMAAc network). The time-dependent recovery of Agar/PAMAAc-Fe 3+ gels at room temperature and the absence of recovery in Agar/PAMAAc gels also confirm the important role of Fe 3+ coordination interactions in mechanical strength, self-recovery, and fatigue resistance of DN gels. Different mechanistic models were proposed to elucidate the mechanical behaviors of different agar-based DN gels. Our results offer a new design strategy to improve strength, selfrecovery, and fatigue resistance of DN gels by controlling the structures and interactions in the second network. We hope that this work will provide an alterative view for the design of tough hydrogels with desirable properties.
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