Magnetic hydrogels are becoming increasingly in demand for technical and biomedical applications, especially for tissue engineering purposes. Among them, alginate-based magnetic hydrogels emerge as one of the preferred formulations, due to the abundance, low cost, and biocompatibility of alginate polymers. However, their relatively slow gelation kinetics provokes strong particle settling, resulting in nonhomogeneous magnetic hydrogels. Here, we study magnetic hydrogels prepared by a novel two-step protocol that allows obtaining macroscopically homogeneous systems, consisting of magnetic microparticles embedded within the alginate network. We describe a comprehensive characterization (morphology, microstructure, and mechanical properties under shear stresses) of the resulting magnetic hydrogels. We pay special attention to the effects of particle volume fraction (up to 0.33) and strength of the magnetic field on the viscoelastic properties of the magnetic hydrogels. Our results indicate that magnetic hydrogels are strongly strengthened against shear stresses as magnetic particle concentration and applied field intensity increase. Finally, we report an adaptation of the two-step protocol for the injection of the magnetic hydrogels that might be adequate for implementation in vivo. Interestingly, injected magnetic hydrogels present similar morphology and mechanical properties to noninjected hydrogels. To conclude, we report magnetic alginate hydrogels with adequate homogeneity and injectability character. These characteristics, together with the broad range of their mechanical properties, make them perfect candidates for cutting-edge technology.
Rheology of magnetic alginate hydrogels
Cristina Gila-Vilchez, Ana B. Bonhome-Espinosa, Pavel Kuzhir, Andrey Zubarev, Juan D. G. Duran, Modesto T. Lopez-Lopez; Rheology of magnetic alginate hydrogels. J. Rheol. 1 September 2018; 62 (5): 1083–1096. https://doi.org/10.1122/1.5028137
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