Cell-Inspired Hydrogel Microcapsules with a Thin Oil Layer of Enhanced Retention of Highly Reactive Antioxidants


Chu, J. - O. ; Choi, Y. ; Kim, D. - W. ; Jeong, H. - S. ; Park, J. P. ; Weitz, D. A. ; Kee, S. - J. ; Lee, H. ; Choi, C. - H. Cell-Inspired Hydrogel Microcapsules with a Thin Oil Layer of Enhanced Retention of Highly Reactive Antioxidants. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2022, 14, 2597–2604. Copy at http://www.tinyurl.com/25tvswcl
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In nature, individual cells are compartmentalized by a membrane that protects the cellular elements from the surrounding environment while simultaneously equipped with an antioxidant defense system to alleviate the oxidative stress resulting from light, oxygen, moisture, and temperature. However, this mechanism has not been realized in cellular mimics to effectively encapsulate and retain highly reactive antioxidants. Here, we report cell-inspired hydrogel microcapsules with an interstitial oil layer prepared by utilizing triple emulsion drops as templates to achieve enhanced retention of antioxidants. We employ ionic gelation for the hydrogel shell to prevent exposure of the encapsulated antioxidants to free radicals typically generated during photopolymerization. The interstitial oil layer in the microcapsule serves as an stimulus-responsive diffusion barrier, enabling efficient encapsulation and retention of antioxidants by providing an adequate pH microenvironment until osmotic pressure is applied to release the cargo on-demand. Moreover, addition of a lipophilic reducing agent in the oil layer induces a complementary reaction with the antioxidant, similar to the nonenzymatic antioxidant defense system in cells, leading to enhanced retention of the antioxidant activity. Furthermore, we show the complete recovery and even further enhancement in antioxidant activity by lowering the storage temperature, which decreases the oxidation rate while retaining the complementary reaction with the lipophilic reducing agent.

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