Supramolecular tuning of H2S release from aromatic peptide amphiphile gels: effect of core unit substituents

Y. Qian, K. Kaur, J.C. Foster, J.B. Matson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


H2S is a gasotransmitter with several physiological roles, but its reactivity and short half-life in biological media make its controlled delivery difficult. For biological applications of the gas, hydrogels have the potential to deliver H2S with several advantages over other donor systems, including localized delivery, controlled release rates, biodegradation, and variable mechanical properties. In this study, we designed and evaluated peptide-based H2S-releasing hydrogels with controllable H2S delivery. The hydrogels were prepared from short, self-assembling aromatic peptide amphiphiles (APAs), functionalized on their N-terminus with S-aroylthiooximes (SATOs), which release H2S in response to a thiol trigger. The APAs were studied both in solution and in gel forms, with gelation initiated by addition of CaCl2. Various substituents were included on the SATO component of the APAs in order to evaluate their effects on self-assembled morphology and H2S release rate in both the solution and gel phases. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images confirmed that all H2S-releasing APAs self-assembled into nanofibers above a critical aggregation concentration (CAC) of ∼0.5 mg/mL. Below the CAC, substituents on the SATO group affected H2S release rates predictably in line with electronic effects (Hammett σ values) according to a linear free energy relationship. Above the CAC, circular dichroism, infrared, and fluorescence spectroscopies demonstrated that substituents influenced the self-assembled structures by affecting hydrogen bonding (β-sheet formation) and π–π stacking. At these concentrations, electronic control over release rates diminished, both in solution and in the gel form. Rather, the release rate depended primarily on the degree of organization in the β-sheets and the amount of π–π stacking. This supramolecular control over release rate may enable the evaluation of H2S-releasing hydrogels with different release rates in biological applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1077-1086
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2019


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