Solid-state NMR spectroscopy insights for resolving different water pools in alginate hydrogels

Mustapha El Hariri El Nokab, Alessia Lasorsa, Khaled O Sebakhy, Francesco Picchioni, Patrick van der Wel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Alginate hydrogels are versatile self-assembling biocompatible materials with diverse biomedical and food industrial applications, which includes uses in encapsulation, (drug) delivery and tissue engineering. Hydrogel formation requires cross-linking, which for alginates is often done with calcium ions that engage in specific interactions with the polysaccharide carboxylic acid groups. Water molecules also hydrate these alginate groups and fill macropores within the hydrogels, with implications for both mechanical properties and cargo encapsulation. Understanding these aspects of hydrogels requires the observation and characterization of the hydrogel waters, how they engage the alginate, and fill the macropores. Here we employed solid-state NMR (ssNMR) spectroscopy to detect and study water molecules in re-hydrated alginate hydrogels. 1H, 2H, and 13C magic angle spinning (MAS) NMR and relaxation measurements were combined to observe both water and alginate. Two different water phases were detected that vary upon gradual (re)hydration of the alginate hydrogels. These water pools differ in their chemical shifts and NMR relaxation properties, reflecting hydration waters directly associated with the carbohydrate polymers alongside dynamic waters in the macropores. Thus, the ssNMR detects the water-filled macropore water pools and how they vary upon calcium cross-linking. We also observe how calcium cross-linking selectively immobilizes the α-guluronate monosaccharides, but leaves the β-mannuronate units more flexible and prone to selective re-hydration. Thus, these ssNMR experiments can be used to probe cross-linking and hydration of alginate hydrogels, with implications for our understanding of design parameters that tune their performance in (drug) delivery and other food industrial applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107500
Number of pages40
JournalFood hydrocolloids
Volume127
Early online date13-Jan-2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2022

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