Repetitive biomimetic self-healing of Ca2+-induced nanocomposite protein hydrogels

Jun Chen, Qiuchen Dong, Xiaoyu Ma, Tai Hsi Fan, Yu Lei*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Self-healing is a capacity observed in most biological systems in which the healing processes are autonomously triggered after the damage. Inspired by this natural behavior, researchers believed that a synthetic material possessing similar self-recovery capability could also be developed. Albeit various intrinsic self-healing systems have been developed over the past few decades, restriction on the biocompatibility due to the required synthetic conditions under extreme pH and with poisonous cross-linker significantly limits their application in biomedical field. In this study, a highly biocompatible nanocomposite protein hydrogel with excellent biomimetic self-healing property is presented. The self-healing protein gel is made by inducing calcium ions into the mixture of heat-induced BSA nanoaggregates and pristine BSA molecules at room temperature and under physiological pH due to the ion-mediated protein-protein association and the bridging effect of divalent Ca2+ ions. The as-prepared protein hydrogel shows excellent repetitive self-healing properties without using any external stimuli at ambient condition. Such outstanding self-recovery performance was quantitatively evaluated/validated by both dynamic and oscillatory rheological analysis. Moreover, with the presence of calcium ions, the self-healing behavior can be significantly facilitated/enhanced. Finally, the superior biocompatibility demonstrated by in vitro cytotoxicity analysis suggests that it is a promising self-healing material wellsuited for biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30804
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

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