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Mechanical and diffusive properties of homogeneous alginate gels in form of particles and cylinders



In this study, alginate polymers are used to get homogeneous cylindrical or spherical gels. MRI techniques are employed to study homogeneity of these gels. Four different alginates are used and, for each one, five different concentrations for mechanical tests and three different concentrations for release tests are studied. Mechanical tests are performed to get gels' linear viscoelasticity region and then to evaluate their crosslink density in relation to polymer concentration. Afterwards, three model molecules (theophylline, vitamin B12, and myoglobin) are loaded within gels to study the release kinetics in water from both cylindrical and spherical gels. Diffusion coefficients calculated from these experiments are then used to estimate the polymeric network mesh wideness. This work shows how crosslink density increases with polymer concentration regardless of the alginate type considered. In addition, while vitamin B12 diffusion coefficient is inversely proportional to crosslink density, myoglobin is too large to diffuse through the polymeric network, whatever the alginate type and polymer concentration. At the same time, theophylline is too small to be sensibly affected by increasing the polymeric network crosslink density. Finally, MRI analysis and vitamin B12 diffusion coefficient values prove that, structurally speaking, cylinders and spheres are similar and homogeneous. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res, 2008