The effect of polymerisation conditions on the network characteristics of Dex (HEMA) microspheres and macro-hydrogels

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Dextran-hydroxy-ethyl-methacrylate (dex-HEMA) hydrogels in the form of microspheres are an attractive system for the controlled delivery of protein drugs. In this work, the microspheres were prepared by a water-in-water emulsion polymerization process. The polymerization reaction was initiated by potassium peroxodisulfate (KPS) and catalyzed by N,N,N',N'- tetramethylethylenediamine (TEMED). The effect of the initiator concentration, reaction temperature and pH on the mechanical and network properties of the microspheres were investigated. The size and size distribution of the microspheres, equilibrium water content, and methacrylate conversion were also determined. The mechanical properties of single microspheres were measured by a micromanipulation technique and the theological characteristics of the same material in the form of macroscopic hydrogel slabs were determined by a controlled stress rheometer. The results showed that the Young's moduli of the microspheres and of macroscopic slabs measured by these two methods were in good agreement. Higher KPS initiator concentrations resulted in a more rapid polymerization with a shorter gelation and lag time, and a higher Young's modulus of the gels. An increase in temperature also resulted in a more rapid polymerization with a shorter gelation and lag time. However, the Young's modulus of the gels decreased with an increase in polymerization temperature. The pH had no significant effect on the mechanical properties of the microspheres. This study demonstrates that the network properties of dex-HEMA hydrogels can be tailored by the polymerization conditions, which opens the possibility to modulate the release rate of entrapped compounds. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2005


  • network property, dex-HEMA hydrogel, mechanical property, microsphere, micromanipulation, radical polymerization