Thermoresponsive biodegradable PEG-PCL-PEG based injectable hydrogel for pulsatile insulin delivery



An injectable biodegradable hydrogel was prepared for temperature-responsive pulsatile release of insulin. Triblock copolymer of poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(ε-caprolactone)-poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG-PCL-PEG, PECE) was prepared by ring opening bulk copolymerization and characterized using FT-IR, 1HNMR, and gel permeation chromatography. Aqueous solution of PECE formed an injectable hydrogel, which was solution at room temperature and transformed into gel at 37°C. The temperature-responsive sol–gel transition and crystallinity of PECE hydrogel was studied and compared with pluronic, a well-studied nonbiodegradable injectable hydrogel. In vitro release study revealed that insulin release profile of PECE was similar to pluronic, and its viscosity was 1/30th of pluronic sol at 10,000 s−1 shear rate. Release behavior of insulin from PECE hydrogels followed Fickian diffusion of first order. Insulin retained its secondary structure after release as confirmed by circular dichroism spectrum. A threefold increase in Fickian diffusion coefficient was evidenced when temperature was increased from 34 to 40°C because of crystalline melting of PCL part of PECE. Pulsatile release of insulin showed a correlation coefficient of 0.90 with the change of temperature. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 102A: 1500–1509, 2014.