Antimicrobial Shape Memory Polymer Hydrogels for Chronic Wound Dressings

ACS Appl Bio Mater. 2022 Nov 21;5(11):5199-5209. doi: 10.1021/acsabm.2c00617. Epub 2022 Oct 18.


Chronic wounds can remain open for several months and have high risks of amputation due to infection. Dressing materials to treat chronic wounds should be conformable for irregular wound geometries, maintain a moist wound bed, and reduce infection risks. To that end, we developed cytocompatible shape memory polyurethane-based poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels that allow facile delivery to the wound site. Plant-based phenolic acids were physically incorporated onto the hydrogel scaffolds to provide antimicrobial properties. These materials were tested to confirm their shape memory properties, cytocompatibility, and antibacterial properties. The incorporation of phenolic acids provides a new mechanism for tuning intermolecular bonding in the hydrogels and corollary mechanical and shape memory properties. Phenolic acid-containing hydrogels demonstrated an increased shape recovery ratio (1.35× higher than the control formulation), and materials with cytocompatibility >90% were identified. Antimicrobial properties were retained over 20 days in hydrogels with higher phenolic acid content. Phenolic acid retention and antimicrobial efficacy were dependent upon phenolic acid structures and interactions with the polymer backbone. This novel hydrogel system provides a platform for future development as a chronic wound dressing material that is easy to implant and reduces infection risks.

Keywords: antimicrobial; chronic wounds; hydrogels; phenolic acids; polyurethanes; shape memory polymers.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents* / pharmacology
  • Bandages
  • Hydrogels / pharmacology
  • Smart Materials*
  • Wound Healing


  • Hydrogels
  • phenolic acid
  • Smart Materials
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents