Strain hardening has recently emerged as a near-universal response of biological tissues to mechanical stimulation as well as a powerful regulator of cell fate. Understanding the mechanistic basis for this nonlinear elasticity is crucial for developing bioinspired materials that mimic extracellular matrix mechanics. Here, we show that covalent networks built from highly acetylated chitosans exhibit strain hardening at physiological pH and osmolarity. While varying the chitosan physical-chemical composition and network connectivity, we provide evidence that temporary nodes arising from the entangling of chains between stable cross-links are at the root of nonlinear elasticity. The contour length (Lc) of the said chains revealed that the larger the chain length between the cross-links, the greater is the entanglement over disentanglement upon network stretching. To this end, we calculated that the minimum number of Khun's segments in Lc that contributes to the onset of strain hardening is 15. Furthermore, we identified a relationship between critical strain marking nonlinear elasticity and the network connectivity, being similar to that found for the cytoskeletal collagen matrix, indicating the potential use of semiflexible (neutral pH-soluble) chitosans in assembling extracellular matrix mimics.

Strain Hardening in Highly Acetylated Chitosan Gels

Furlani F.;Marsich E.;Donati I.;Sacco P.
2021

Abstract

Strain hardening has recently emerged as a near-universal response of biological tissues to mechanical stimulation as well as a powerful regulator of cell fate. Understanding the mechanistic basis for this nonlinear elasticity is crucial for developing bioinspired materials that mimic extracellular matrix mechanics. Here, we show that covalent networks built from highly acetylated chitosans exhibit strain hardening at physiological pH and osmolarity. While varying the chitosan physical-chemical composition and network connectivity, we provide evidence that temporary nodes arising from the entangling of chains between stable cross-links are at the root of nonlinear elasticity. The contour length (Lc) of the said chains revealed that the larger the chain length between the cross-links, the greater is the entanglement over disentanglement upon network stretching. To this end, we calculated that the minimum number of Khun's segments in Lc that contributes to the onset of strain hardening is 15. Furthermore, we identified a relationship between critical strain marking nonlinear elasticity and the network connectivity, being similar to that found for the cytoskeletal collagen matrix, indicating the potential use of semiflexible (neutral pH-soluble) chitosans in assembling extracellular matrix mimics.
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https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.biomac.1c00293
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2994040
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