Injectable Self-Healing Adhesive Natural Glycyrrhizic Acid Bioactive Hydrogel for Bacteria-Infected Wound Healing

Bioactive hydrogels self-assembled from naturally occurring herbal small molecules are attracting growing interest for applications in wound healing, due to their versatile intrinsic biological activities, excellent biocompatibility, as well as facile, sustainable, and eco-friendly processes. However, the development of supramolecular herb hydrogels with sufficient strength and multifunctionality as an ideal wound dressing in clinical practice remains a challenge. In this work, inspired by the efficient clinic therapy and directed self-assembly of natural saponin glycyrrhizic acid (GA), we create a novel GA-based hybrid hydrogel to promote full-thickness wound healing and bacterial-infected wound healing. This hydrogel possesses excellent stability and mechanical performance and multifunctional properties, including injectable, shape-adaptation and remodeling, self-healing, and adhesive abilities. This is attributed to the hierarchical dual-network that comprises the self-assembled hydrogen-bond fibrillar network of aldehyde-contained GA (AGA) and the dynamic covalent network through Schiff base reaction between AGA and a biopolymer carboxymethyl chitosan (CMC). Notably, benefiting from the inherent strong biological activity of GA, the AGA-CMC hybrid hydrogel exhibits unique and significant anti-inflammation effects and antibacterial ability, especially toward the Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). In vivo experiments demonstrate that the AGA-CMC hydrogel promotes uninfected skin wound healing and S. aureus-infected skin wound healing by enhancing the formation of granulation tissue, facilitating collagen deposition, reducing bacterial infection, and downregulating inflammatory response. This study highlights the design of new and multifunctional bioactive herb hydrogels from natural drug-food homologous small molecules, which can serve as a promising wound-healing dressing for biomedical applications.
Funding Information
  • Guangzhou Science and Technology Program key projects (202201010209)
  • National Natural Science Foundation of China (32172347)
  • Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2021A1515011000)
  • Higher Education Discipline Innovation Project (B17018)

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