Novel chitosan-silica hybrid hydrogels for cell encapsulation and drug delivery

Soher Jayash, Paul Cooper, Richard Shelton, Sarah Kuehne, Gowsihan Poologasundarampillai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Downloads (Pure)


Hydrogels constructed from naturally derived polymers provide an aqueous environment that encourages cell growth, however, mechanical properties are poor and degradation can be dif-ficult to predict. Whilst, synthetic hydrogels exhibit some improved mechanical properties, these materials lack biochemical cues for cells growing and have limited biodegradation. To produce hy-drogels that support 3D cell cultures to form tissue mimics, materials must exhibit appropriate biological and mechanical properties. In this study, novel organic-inorganic hybrid hydrogels based on chitosan and silica were prepared using the sol-gel technique. The chemical, physical and biological properties of the hydrogels were assessed. Statistical analysis was performed using One-Way ANO- VAs and independent-sample t-tests. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy showed characteris-tic absorption bands including amide II, Si-O and Si-O-Si confirming formation of hybrid networks. Oscillatory rheometry was used to characterise the sol to gel transition and viscoelastic behaviour of hydrogels. Furthermore, in vitro degradation revealed both chitosan and silica were released over 21 days. The hydrogels exhibited high loading efficiency as total protein loading was released in a week. There were significant differences between TC2G and C2G at all-time points (p < 0.05). The viability of osteoblasts seeded on, and encapsulated within, the hydrogels was >70% over 168 h culture and antimicrobial activity was demonstrated against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Entero-coccus faecalis. The hydrogels developed here offer alternatives for biopolymer hydrogels for bio-medical use, including for application in drug/cell delivery and for bone tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12267
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: This study acknowledges the support from University of Birmingham, UK and CARA. GP would like to thank EPSRC (grant number EP/M023877/1) for funding. The authors would like to thank Sherif Mohamad for antibacterial training and thank Justyna Hofmanova and Gabor Dravavolgyi for rheology training.

Funding Information:
Funding: GP would like to acknowledge EPSRC grant EP/M023877/1 and MRC CiC at University of Birmingham.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cell encapsulation
  • Chitosan
  • Drug delivery
  • Organic-inorganic hybrid hydrogel
  • Sol-gel process
  • Thiolated chitosan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Novel chitosan-silica hybrid hydrogels for cell encapsulation and drug delivery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this