Tunable metallo-hydrogels: Mechanical properties and characterization of stimuli responsive self-assembling peptide hydrogels

04 March 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Supramolecular self-assembly is employed in this study to design short amphiphilic peptides with specific binding affinity for Zn(II). Two selectively modified peptides (Ac-LIVKHH-NH2, P1 & Fmoc-LIVKHH-NH2, P2) were synthesized using standard Fmoc-/Boc- solid-phase peptide synthesis. When these water-soluble peptides are combined with Zn(II) salt solution, they encapsulate large volumes of water to form metallo-hydrogels. The Zn(II) responsiveness in metallo-hydrogels was investigated in buffer or water (pH 7) with or without Zn(II) salts. The afforded supramolecular architectures (metallo-hydrogels) were characterized by circular dichroism and their micro- and nanostructure with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), respectively. Measurements of rheology and thixotropy were conducted to assess the gelation behavior, the viscoelastic character and the mechanical properties of metallo-hydrogels. We found that Zn(II) significantly influences hydrogel formation, leading to improved mechanical properties. The resulting hydrogels show remarkable thixotropic behavior, indicating their potential in 3D printing and as injectable carriers. Such hydrogels can be also used as primary wound dressings, and their antibacterial activity can be further explored. This research work provides valuable insights into the zinc-responsive behavior of the aforementioned peptides, establishing a foundation for their prospective applications in biomaterials and materials science.


peptide hydrogels
amphiphilic peptides

Supplementary materials

Supplementary Data
The supporting information contains additional analytical data, including 1H, DEPT, COSY, HMBC, and HSQC NMR spectra for P1 and P2. It also provides additional information on the rheology measurement setup and frequency sweep graphs.


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.