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Antioxidants are known to improve the wound healing process and are researched as a therapeutic strategy to treat chronic wounds. Dopamine is a known neurotransmitter with antioxidant properties that can be polymerized to form polydopamine (PDA). Herein, polydopamine is demonstrated as an antioxidant biomaterial. In prior work, we developed methodology to prepare hydrogels by crosslinking polysaccharides with polyamines via epichlorohydrin and NaOH. Using this previously developed methodology, dextran hydrogels crosslinked with polydopamine were prepared. Darkening of the gels indicated the increasing incorporation of polydopamine within the hydrogels. In addition to basic pH, polydopamine can be formed by reaction with polyethylene imine (PEI), which results in PEI-PDA copolymer. Dextran was similarly crosslinked with the PEI-PDA copolymer and resulted in sturdier, darker gels, which had more polydopamine incorporated. Hydrogel morphology and strength were dependent on the feed ratios of dopamine. Antioxidant activity of polydopamine containing hydrogel was confirmed and shown to be dependent on the amount of dopamine used in hydrogel synthesis. Hydrogels with 0.5 dopamine to dextran feed ratio scavenged 78.8% of radicals in a 2,2′-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) antioxidant assay while gels with no dopamine scavenged only 1.4% of radicals. An ex vivo wound healing assay showed considerable cell migration with the PEI-PDA containing hydrogel.

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