IJMS, Vol. 23, Pages 11618: Analysis of the Influence of Both the Average Molecular Weight and the Content of Crosslinking Agent on Physicochemical Properties of PVP-Based Hydrogels Developed as Innovative Dressings (International Journal of Molecular Sciences)
Hydrogels belong to the group of polymers with a three-dimensional crosslinked structure, and their crosslinking density strongly affects their physicochemical properties. Here, we verified the impact of both the average molecular weight of crosslinking agents used during the photopolymerization of hydrogels and that of their content on selected properties of these materials. First, PVP-based hydrogels modified with Aloe vera juice and L-ascorbic acid were prepared using UV radiation. Next, their surface morphology was characterized via optical scanning electron microscopy, whereas their chemical structure was investigated by FT-IR spectroscopy. Moreover, we verified the tendency of the hydrogels to degrade in selected physiological liquids, as well as their tensile strength, percentage of elongation, and swelling capability. We found that the more crosslinking agent in the hydrogel matrix, the higher its tensile strength and the less elongation. The hydrogels showed the highest stability during incubation in SBF and 2% hemoglobin solution. A sharp decrease in the pH of distilled water observed during the incubation of the hydrogels was probably due to the release of Aloe vera juice from the hydrogel matrices. This was additionally confirmed by the decrease in the intensity of the absorption band derived from the polysaccharides included in this additive and by the decrease in the swelling ratio after 48 h. Importantly, all hydrogels demonstrated swelling properties, and it was proven that the higher content of the crosslinking agent in hydrogels, the lower their swelling ability.