New Synthesis Route of Hydrogel through A Bioinspired Supramolecular Approach: Gelation, Binding Interaction, and in Vitro Dressing

Chieh Cheng, Meng Che Tang, Chung Shu Wu, Turibius Simon, Fu-Hsiang Ko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Peptide-based supramolecular hydrogels have been comprehensively investigated in biomaterial applications because of their unique bioactivity, biofunctionality, and biocompatible features. However, the presence of organic building blocks in peptide-based hydrogels often results in low mechanical stability. To expand their practical use and range of applications, it is necessary to develop the tool kit available to prepare bioinspired, peptide-based supramolecular hydrogels with improved mechanical stability. In this paper, we present an innovative electrostatic and cross-linking approach in which naphthyl-Phe-Phe-Cys (NapFFC) oligopeptides are combined with gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and calcium ions (Ca2+) to produce peptide-based supramolecular hydrogels. We further investigate the interactions among NapFFC, AuNPs and Ca2+ by microscopy. The morphology of the nanofibrous network constructions and the binding forces exhibited from the hydrogel demonstrated that the combination of two mechanisms successfully enhanced the mechanical stability through the formation of a densely entangled fibrous network of peptide multimers that is attributed to the AuNP linkage and Ca2+-induced agglomeration. UV-vis spectrophotometry and fluorescence analysis were also used to demonstrate the enhanced stability of the hydrogel under various conditions such as thermal, solvent erosion, pH value and sonication. All results indicate that the presence of AuNPs and Ca2+ can strengthen the prepared hydrogel by more than doubling the diameter of NapFFC nanofibers, enabling the formation of stronger frameworks and slowing the release of components. Further experiments confirmed that HeLa cells can grow on the bioinspired NapFFC-AuNP hydrogel and exhibit high cell viability and that these cells were killed on contact with a hydrogel containing a drug. Our peptide-based supramolecular hydrogels prepared from the observed electrostatic and cross-linking mechanisn exhibited a significantly improved mechanical stability, making them well suited to use as a drug carrier in hydrogel dressings and as extracellular materials (ECMs) for tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19306-19315
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number34
StatePublished - 14 Aug 2015


  • calcium ions
  • gold nanoparticles
  • hydrogel
  • in vitro dressing
  • supramolecular


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