A dual-responsive hydrogel (pH/temperature) was developed from a thermos-responsive polymer, pluronic F-127 (PF127), and pH-responsive polymers, N,N,N-trimethyl chitosan (TMC) and polyethylene glycolated hyaluronic acid (PEG-HA). Gallic acid, the principal component of the traditional Chinese drug Cortex Moutan was loaded into the hydrogel (PF127/TMC/PEG-HA) for possible application in textile-based transdermal therapy as Cortex Moutan has been proven to be an effective drug for the treatment of atopic dermatitis (AD). TMC and PEG-HA were synthesized, characterized (1H-NMR and FTIR), and added to the formulations to enhance drug release from the hydrogels, and increase the drug targeting of the carriers. The thermo-responsive properties of the hydrogel were assessed by dynamic viscosity analysis and the tube inversion method, and the pH-responsiveness of the formulation was determined by changing the pH of the external media. Rheology study of the hydrogels showed that complex viscosity and storage/loss moduli for PF127/TMC/PEG-HA hydrogel formulation are higher than PF127 hydrogel. The microstructure analysis by reflection SAXS indicated similar type of frozen inhomogeneity of hydrogel formulations. Various characterizations such as FTIR, SEM, TEM, zeta potential, and degradation of the hydrogel formulation indicated that the PF127/TMC/PEG-HA hydrogel showed better physico-chemical properties and morphology than did the PF127 hydrogel, and drug release was also higher for the PF127/TMC/PEG-HA hydrogel than for PF127. The drug release from hydrogels followed more closely first-order rate model than other rate models.
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