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Novel Hydroxyethyl Cellulose-based Hydrogels for Tissue Engineering Applications

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-09-15      Origin: Site


Hydrogels are a type of biomaterials with high water content, which form a three-dimensional network structure and are permeable to small molecules and ions. They have been widely used in tissue engineering because they can mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM) and provide a favorable environment for cell growth and differentiation. Hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC) is a water-soluble cellulose derivative that has good biocompatibility and can be chemically modified to form various types of hydrogels. In recent years, novel HEC-based hydrogels have been developed for tissue engineering applications. This review will summarize the recent advances in HEC-based hydrogels for tissue engineering, including their synthesis, characterization, and application.

Synthesis of HEC-based Hydrogels

HEC-based hydrogels can be synthesized by various methods, including physical crosslinking, chemical crosslinking, and enzymatic crosslinking. Physical crosslinking is achieved by physical interactions such as hydrogen bonding, electrostatic interactions, or van der Waals forces. Chemical crosslinking involves the formation of covalent bonds between polymer chains by using a crosslinking agent. Enzymatic crosslinking uses enzymes to catalyze the formation of the crosslinks.

Several crosslinking methods have been used to synthesize HEC-based hydrogels. Among them, the chemical crosslinking method is the most commonly used. The chemical crosslinking of HEC is mainly achieved by reacting HEC with a crosslinking agent, such as glutaraldehyde, epichlorohydrin, or divinyl sulfone. Glutaraldehyde is the most commonly used crosslinking agent for HEC because it can form stable crosslinks between HEC chains. Epichlorohydrin also reacts with HEC to form crosslinks, but it is not as efficient as glutaraldehyde. Divinyl sulfone can also be used for crosslinking HEC, but it requires harsh reaction conditions and may lead to toxic residues.

In addition to chemical crosslinking, physical crosslinking of HEC can also be achieved by using temperature or pH-sensitive polymers. For example, HEC can be crosslinked with chitosan to form a pH-sensitive hydrogel. The crosslinks between HEC and chitosan are formed through electrostatic interactions between the amino groups of chitosan and the carboxyl groups of HEC. The resulting hydrogel is stable under neutral or alkaline conditions, but it can dissolve under acidic conditions, which makes it a potential candidate for drug delivery applications.

Characterization of HEC-based Hydrogels

The properties of HEC-based hydrogels, such as mechanical strength, water absorption, swelling behavior, and degradation rate, can be characterized using various methods. The mechanical properties of HEC-based hydrogels can be determined by using rheological measurements, such as stress-strain measurements and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). The water absorption capacity and swelling behavior of HEC-based hydrogels can be evaluated by measuring the weight change of the hydrogels in water or buffer solutions. The degradation rate of HEC-based hydrogels can be evaluated by measuring the weight loss of the hydrogels in the presence of enzymes or chemical agents.

Moreover, the morphology and structure of HEC-based hydrogels can be characterized by using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and X-ray diffraction (XRD). SEM and TEM can provide information on the surface morphology and internal structure of HEC-based hydrogels, respectively. XRD can be used to determine the crystalline structure of HEC-based hydrogels.

Applications of HEC-based Hydrogels in Tissue Engineering

HEC-based hydrogels have been applied in various tissue engineering applications, including wound healing, drug delivery, and cartilage regeneration. HEC-based hydrogels can promote wound healing by providing a moist environment for the wound and controlling the release of growth factors. For example, a composite hydrogel of HEC and collagen was developed for wound healing applications. The hydrogel exhibited good biocompatibility and biodegradability, and it could promote the proliferation and migration of fibroblasts.

HEC-based hydrogels have also been used for drug delivery applications. HEC-based hydrogels can absorb large amounts of water and swell, which provides a mechanism for drug loading and controlled release. For example, HEC-based hydrogels were used as drug carriers for an anticancer drug, doxorubicin. The hydrogels showed sustained drug release and enhanced anticancer activity.

Additionally, HEC-based hydrogels have been used for cartilage regeneration. The hydrogels can mimic the ECM of cartilage and provide a favorable environment for chondrocyte growth and differentiation. For example, a composite hydrogel of HEC and chitosan was developed for cartilage regeneration. The hydrogel promoted the proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes and showed good biocompatibility in vivo.


In conclusion, HEC-based hydrogels have great potential for tissue engineering applications due to their good biocompatibility, biodegradability, and mechanical properties. Various crosslinking methods can be used to synthesize HEC-based hydrogels with different properties. The properties of HEC-based hydrogels can be characterized by various methods, including rheological measurements, SEM, TEM, and XRD. HEC-based hydrogels have been applied in wound healing, drug delivery, and cartilage regeneration, and have shown promising results in these applications.