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Mathematical modeling of a temperature-sensitive and tissue-mimicking gel matrix
  • Baeckkyoung SUNG
Baeckkyoung SUNG
KIST Europe Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Author Profile


Programmed to retain active responsivity to environmental stimuli, diverse types of synthetic gels have been attracting interests regarding various applications, such as versatile elastic biodevices. In a different approach, when the gels are made of tissue-derived biopolymers, they can act as an artificial extracellular matrix (ECM) for use as soft implants in regenerative medicine. To explore the physical properties of hydrogels in terms of statistical thermodynamics, the mean-field Flory-Huggins-Rehner theory has long been used with various analytical and numerical modifications. Here we suggest a novel mathematical model on the volume phase transition of a biological hybrid gel that is sensitive to ambient temperature. To mimic acellular soft tissues, the ECM-like hydrogel is modeled as a network of biopolymer chains, such as type I collagen and gelatin, which are covalently crosslinked and swollen in aqueous solvents. Within the network, thermoresponsive synthetic polymer chains are doped by chemical conjugation. Based on the Flory-Huggins-Rehner framework, our model phenomenologically illustrates a well-characterized volume phase behavior of engineered tissue mimics as a function of temperature by formulating the ternary mixing free energy of the polymer-solvent system and by generalizing the elastic free energy term. With this formalism, the decoupling of the Flory-Huggins interaction parameter between the thermoresponsive polymer and ECM biopolymer enables deriving a simple analytical equation for the volume phase transition as a function of the structural and compositional parameters. We show that the doping ratio of the thermoresponsive polymers affects the phase transition temperature of the ECM-like gels.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

28 Jan 2020Submitted to Mathematical Methods in the Applied Sciences
03 Feb 2020Submission Checks Completed
03 Feb 2020Assigned to Editor
08 Feb 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
17 May 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
19 May 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Major
31 Jul 20201st Revision Received
01 Aug 2020Submission Checks Completed
01 Aug 2020Assigned to Editor
02 Aug 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
13 Aug 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
14 Aug 2020Editorial Decision: Accept