Doxycycline loaded poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels for healing vesicant-induced ocular wounds

Biomaterials. 2010 Feb;31(5):964-74. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.10.010. Epub 2009 Oct 22.


Half mustard (CEES) and nitrogen mustard (NM) are commonly used surrogates and vesicant analogs of the chemical warfare agent sulfur mustard. In the current study, in situ forming poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based doxycycline hydrogels are developed and evaluated for their wound healing efficacy in CEES and NM-exposed rabbit corneas in organ culture. The hydrogels, characterized by UV-Vis spectrophotometry, rheometry, and swelling kinetics, showed that the hydrogels are optically transparent, have good mechanical strength and a relatively low degree of swelling (<7%). In vitro doxycycline release from the hydrogel disks (0.25% w/v) was found to be biphasic with release half times of approximately 12 and 72h, respectively, with 80-100% released over a 7-day period. Permeation of doxycycline through vesicant wounded corneas was found to be 2.5 to 3.4 fold higher than non-wounded corneas. Histology and immunofluorescence studies showed a significant reduction of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and improved healing of vesicant-exposed corneas by doxycycline hydrogels compared to a similar dose of doxycycline delivered in phosphate buffered saline (PBS, pH 7.4). In conclusion, the current studies demonstrate that the doxycycline-PEG hydrogels accelerate corneal wound healing after vesicant injury offering a therapeutic option for ocular mustard injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Doxycycline / administration & dosage*
  • Doxycycline / chemistry*
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry*
  • Eye Burns / chemically induced*
  • Eye Burns / drug therapy*
  • Hydrogels / chemistry
  • Irritants / poisoning
  • Materials Testing
  • Nitrogen Mustard Compounds / poisoning*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry*
  • Rabbits
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drug Carriers
  • Hydrogels
  • Irritants
  • Nitrogen Mustard Compounds
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Doxycycline