This work exploits the thermal responsive phase behavior of hydroxypropylcellulose to produce 3D interconnected macroporous hydrogels in aqueous environment. Hydroxypropylcellulose was modified with allyl isocyanate, and their temperature mediated phase behavior was studied as a function of degree of modification (DS). A derivative with a DS of 1.5 was selected for scaffold preparation. Its aqueous solutions were warmed up to trigger the formation of biphasic systems. Such state was then immobilized efficiently by gamma-ray irradiated crosslinking. Lyophilization of the crosslinked hydrogels yielded 3D macroporous sponges. The re-hydrated gels demonstrate a combination of interconnected macroporosity, high water content and mechanical integrity to soft tissues. Cytocompatibility was demonstrated among various cell types, and in vivo biocompatibility test showed minimal inflammatory response within 12 weeks' subcutaneous implantation in mice. The potential applications of these macroporous hydrogels in tissue engineering are discussed.
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