Zwitterionic polymers have been investigated as surface-coating materials due to their low protein adsorption properties, which reduce immunogenicity, biofouling, and bacterial adsorption of coated materials. Most zwitterionic polymers, reported so far, are based on (meth)acrylate polymers which can induce toxicity by residual monomers or amines produced by degradation. Here, we report a new zwitterionic polymer consisting of phosphorylcholine (PC) and biocompatible poly(propylene glycol) (PPG) as a new thermogelling material. The PC-PPG-PC polymer aqueous solution undergoes unique multiple sol-gel transitions as the temperature increases. A heat-induced unimer-to-micelle transition, changes in ionic interactions, and dehydration of PPG are involved in the sol-gel transitions. Based on the broad gel window and low protein adsorption properties, the PC-PPG-PC thermogel is proved for sustained delivery of protein drugs and stem cells over 1 week.
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© 2015 American Chemical Society.