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Head Group Modulated pH-Responsive Hydrogel of Amino Acid-Based Amphiphiles:  Entrapment and Release of Cytochrome c and Vitamin B12

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journal contribution
posted on 15.04.2008, 00:00 by Anshupriya Shome, Sisir Debnath, Prasanta Kumar Das
The present study describes the rational design and synthesis of amino acid-based amphiphilic hydrogelators, which were systemically fine-tuned at the head group to develop pH-responsive hydrogels. To understand the basic structural requirements of a low molecular weight amphiphilic hydrogelator, 10 analogous amphiphiles based on l-phenylalanine and l-tyrosine with structurally related head group were synthesized. Among them, three with quaternary ammonium substitution at the head group formed transparent hydrogels at room temperature while others were unable to gelate water. To establish correlations between the head group architecture of the gelators and their supramolecular arrangements, a variety of spectroscopic and microscopic techniques were investigated that showed that a balance between hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity is required to achieve hydrogelation. Interestingly, the gelator with tyrosinate in its head group showed remarkable response toward external pH. All hydrogels including the pH-responsive one were used in the controlled and/or pH-triggered release of entrapped (with in hydrogels) vitamin B12 and cytochrome c at different pHs. Since the hydrogels were formed at room temperature without heating, this could be very important during the entrapment of biomolecules such as proteins because of their heat sensitivity. At biological pH (7.4), the release of entrapped biomolecules from all three hydrogels was caused by diffusion through the gel structure, but at endosomal pH (∼5.5) and further lower pH, the release rate of biomolecules from the pH-responsive hydrogel with tyrosinate head group (pKa ≈ 7.2) increased by 9−10-fold compared to that observed at physiological pH, because of gel dissolution. Retention of the structure and activity of released biomolecule has established the prospect of the hydrogel as an efficient drug delivery vehicle.

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