Poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(L -lactide) star block copolymer hydrogels crosslinked by metal-ligand coordination

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The aqueous solution behavior and thermoreversible gelation properties of pyridine-end-functionalized poly(ethylene glycol)–poly(L-lactide) (PEG–(PLLA)8–py) star block copolymers in the presence of coordinating transition metal ions were studied. In aqueous solutions, the macromonomers self-assembled into micelles and micellar aggregates at low concentrations and formed physically crosslinked, thermoreversible hydrogels above a critical gel concentration (CGC) of 8% w/v. In the presence of transition metal ions like Cu(II), Co(II), or Mn(II), the aggregate dimensions increased. Above the CGC, the gel–sol transition shifted to higher temperatures due to the formation of additional crosslinks from intermolecular coordination complexes between metal ions and pyridine ligands. Furthermore, as an example, PEG–(PLLA)8–py hydrogels stabilized by Mn(II)–pyridine coordination complexes were more resistant against degradation/dissolution when placed in phosphate buffered saline at 37 °C when compared with hydrogels prepared in water. Importantly, the stabilizing effect of metal–ligand coordination was noticeable at very low Cu(II) concentrations, which have been reported to be noncytotoxic for fibroblasts in vitro. These novel PEG–(PLLA)8–py metallo-hydrogels, which are the first systems to combine metal–ligand coordination with the advantageous properties of PEG–PLLA copolymer hydrogels, are appealing materials that may find use in biomedical as well as environmental applications like the removal of heavy metal ions from waste streams
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1783-1791
JournalJournal of polymer science. Part A: Polymer chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • METIS-288523
  • IR-81901


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