Zwitterionic poly(sulfobetaine methacrylate) hydrogels with optimal mechanical properties for improving wound healing in vivo.


College of Chemistry and Materials Engineering, Wenzhou University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325027, P. R. China. [Email]


Zwitterionic hydrogels, as highly hydrated and soft materials, have been considered as promising materials for wound dressing, due to their unique antifouling and mechanical properties. While the viscoelasticity and softness of zwitterionic hydrogels are hypothetically essential for creating adaptive cellular niches, the underlying mechanically regulated wound healing mechanism still remains elusive. To test this hypothesis, we fabricated zwitterionic poly(sulfobetaine methacrylate) (polySBMA) hydrogels with different elastic moduli prepared at different crosslinker contents, and then applied the hydrogels to full-thickness cutaneous wounds in mice. In vivo wound healing studies compared the mechanical cue-induced effects of soft and stiff polySBMA hydrogels on wound closure rates, granulation tissue formation and collagen deposition. Collective results showed that the softer and more viscoelastic hydrogels facilitated cell proliferation, granulation formation, collagen aggregation, and chondrogenic ECM deposition. Such high wound healing efficiency by the softer hydrogels is likely attributed to stress dissipation by expanding the cell proliferation, the up-regulation of blood vessel formation, and the enhanced polarization of M2/M1 macrophages, both of which would provide more oxygen and nutrients for cell proliferation and migration, leading to enhanced wound repair. This work not only reveals a mechanical property-wound healing relationship of zwitterionic polySBMA hydrogels, but also provides a promising candidate and strategy for the next-generation of wound dressings.

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