Abstract Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a natural linear polysaccharide that has been used extensively in the biomedical field as it is a biocompatible, biodegradable, nontoxic and non-immunogenic polymer with high water affinity. Besides, the presence of multiple acid and hydroxyl groups in the HA molecule makes it an ideal candidate for chemical modification. The present paper describes the synthesis and characterization of HA-based hydrogels. For this purpose, aqueous mixtures containing 5% (w/w) of HA and different concentrations of Gantrez S97 (GAN) (1, 3 and 5% w/w) were used to prepare HA-based hydrogels. The mixtures were dried and the hydrogels were obtained after heating the solid material at 80 °C for 24 h. GAN is the acid form of an methylvinylether and maleic anhydride copolymer and contains multiple acid groups that can form ester bonds when reacting with the multiple hydroxyl groups present in HA chains. The method described here present potential to be applied for the preparation of HA-based biomaterials with a defined form as the crosslinking reaction between HA and the crosslinker takes place in solid phase. Besides, the method can be considered an environmental-friendly process as no organic solvents or potentially toxic substances were used. The esterification reaction was confirmed by infrared spectroscopy and dynamic scanning calorimetry measurements. The loading and release capabilities of the hydrogels were evaluating by using methylene blue (MB) as a model molecule. The hydrogels showed a high affinity for MB showing loadings up to 0.35 mg MB per mg of hydrogel. Moreover, the hydrogels were capable of sustaining the MB release over two days. The use of microwave radiation was evaluated to reduce the crosslinking time from 24 h to 1 h, but this procedure needs to be optimized in future studies. As the crosslinking procedure takes place in solid state, the HA/GAN hydrogels were used to prepare micro-engineered device, microneedle arrays. Finally, the antimicrobial properties of the hydrogels were evaluated. The results showed that the hydrogels presented anti-infective properties.
- Hyaluronic acid