Interplay of thermal and covalent gelation of silanized hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose gels

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Silanized hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose (Si-HPMC) is a biocompatible polysaccharide that forms a covalently crosslinked hydrogel at all temperatures due to silanol condensation. Unmodified HPMC forms reversible turbid physical gels when heated above 55°C. The interaction between thermal gelation and covalent crosslinking of Si-HPMC was investigated with rheology, turbidity and microscopy. Thermal gelation of the HPMC backbone was found to reinforce Si-HPMC gels at room temperature. However, simultaneous thermal and covalent crosslinking at higher temperatures led to weaker turbid gels at room temperature. The effect of the pH and the addition of orthophosphate on the elastic modulus and the gelation kinetics was investigated.