Self-Forming Norbornene-Tetrazine Hydrogels with Independently Tunable Properties

Kirstene A. Gultian, Roshni Gandhi, Tae Won B. Kim, Sebastián L. Vega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Although photopolymerization reactions are commonly used to form hydrogels, these strategies rely on light and may not be suitable for delivering therapeutics in a minimally invasive manner. Here, hyaluronic acid (HA) macromers are modified with norbornene (Nor) or tetrazine (Tet) and upon mixing click into covalently crosslinked Nor-Tet hydrogels via a Diels–Alder reaction. By incorporating a high degree of Nor and Tet substitution, Nor-Tet hydrogels with a broad range in elastic moduli (5 to 30 kPa) and fast gelation times (1 to 5 min) are achieved. By pre-coupling methacrylated HANor macromers with thiolated peptides via a Michael addition reaction, Nor-Tet hydrogels are peptide-functionalized without affecting their physical properties. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on RGD-functionalized Nor-Tet hydrogels adhere and exhibit stiffness-dependent differences in matrix mechanosensing. Fluid properties of Nor-Tet hydrogel solutions allow for injections through narrow syringe needles and can locally deliver viable cells and peptides. Substituting HA with enzymatically degradable gelatin also results in cell-responsive Nor-Tet hydrogels, and MSCs encapsulated in Nor-Tet hydrogels preferentially differentiate into adipocytes or osteoblasts, based on 3D cellular spreading regulated by stable (HA) and degradable (gelatin) macromers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2200425
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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