PEGDA hydrogels as a replacement for animal tissues in mucoadhesion testing

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Graphical abstractUtilization of animal parts in ex-vivo mucoadhesion assays is a common approach that presents many difficulties due to animal rights issues and large variance between animals. This study examines the suitability of two PEGDA (poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate) based hydrogels to serve as tissue mimetics for mucoadhesion evaluation. One hydrogel, termed PEGDA-QT, was composed of pentaerythritol tetrakis (3-mercaptopropionate) and PEG and contained free thiol groups mimicking those found in natural mucosa. The other hydrogel was formed by UV (ultraviolet) curing of PEGDA and mimicked the mechanical property of mucosa but not its chemical constitute. When ranking different first generation mucoadhesive polymers using a tensile assay, both hydrogels showed good agreement with the ranking achieved for porcine small intestine. However, only PEGDA-QT and porcine small intestine shared a similar displacement curve. The same ranking for PEGDA-QT and porcine small intestine was also observed when comparing a second-generation mucoadhesive polymer, thiolated alginate, to native alginate. Our findings suggest that PEGDA-QT could serve as a replacement for porcine small intestine in both mucoadhesion evaluations using a tensile machine and the flow-through method for first and second-generation mucoadhesive polymers.

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