Injectable hydrogels as unique biomedical materials

Chem Soc Rev. 2008 Aug;37(8):1473-81. doi: 10.1039/b713009k. Epub 2008 Jun 11.


A concentrated fish soup could be gelled in the winter and re-solled upon heating. In contrast, some synthetic copolymers exhibit an inverse sol-gel transition with spontaneous physical gelation upon heating instead of cooling. If the transition in water takes place below the body temperature and the chemicals are biocompatible and biodegradable, such gelling behavior makes the associated physical gels injectable biomaterials with unique applications in drug delivery and tissue engineering etc. Various therapeutic agents or cells can be entrapped in situ and form a depot merely by a syringe injection of their aqueous solutions at target sites with minimal invasiveness and pain. This tutorial review summarizes and comments on this soft matter, especially thermogelling poly(ethylene glycol)-(biodegradable polyester) block copolymers. The main types of injectable hydrogels are also briefly introduced, including both physical gels and chemical gels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical and Dental Materials / chemistry*
  • Cross-Linking Reagents / chemistry
  • Hydrogels / administration & dosage*
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Injections
  • Phase Transition
  • Temperature


  • Biomedical and Dental Materials
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Hydrogels