In this study, hydrogels based on acetylated galactoglucomannan (AcGGM)—a hemicellulose present in softwood—were synthesized and examined for their properties in drug-release systems using two model substances of different molecular weight, size, and polarity (caffeine and vitasyn blue). Neutral hydrogels were produced from functionalized AcGGM using hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) coupled via carbonyldiimidazole (CDI) and a co-monomer in a radical-initiated polymerization. Through a second modification reaction between the HEMA-modified AcGGM (M-AcGGM-methacrylated AcGGM) and maleic anhydride, a “double-modified” AcGGM (CM-AcGGM-carboxylated M-AcGGM) was successfully formed that could be cross-linked to form ionic hydrogels by the very same polymerization method. The neutral hydrogels showed drug release kinetics that could be easily regulated by changing the relative amount of the methacrylated AcGGM and its corresponding degree of methacrylation. The drug release rate and the Fickian swelling decreased with an increase in these two aforementioned parameters. The ionic hydrogels showed quicker release kinetics and higher swelling capabilities than the corresponding nonionic gels did, especially at neutral conditions. Under acidic conditions, the release speed was lowered as expected because of protonation of carboxylic functionalities. Based on the findings we conclude that these novel hemicellulose-containing hydrogels have future prospects in drug release formulations, e.g., in a later stage of development for application in oral drug administration technology. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2009
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