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Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 57, Issue33, pp 42964303

First Online: 25 September 2012Received: 12 May 2012Accepted: 29 August 2012DOI: 10.1007-s11434-012-5487-2

Cite this article as: Cao, C., Cao, M., Fan, H. et al. Chin. Sci. Bull. 2012 57: 4296. doi:10.1007-s11434-012-5487-2


Hydrogels resulting from the self-assembly of small peptides are smart nanobiomaterials as their nanostructuring can be readily tuned by environmental stimuli such as pH, ionic strength and temperature, thereby favoring their practical applications. This work reports experimental observations of formation of peptide hydrogels in response to the redox environment. Ac-I3K-NH2 is a short peptide amphiphile that readily self-assembles into long nanofibers and its gel formation occurs at concentrations of about 10 mmol-L. Introduction of a Cys residue into the hydrophilic region leads to a new molecule, Ac-I3CGK-NH2, that enables the formation of disulfide bonds between self-assembled nanofibers, thus favoring cross-linking and promoting hydrogel formation. Under oxidative environment, Ac-I3CGK-NH2 formed hydrogels at much lower concentrations even at 0.5 mmol-L. Furthermore, the strength of the hydrogels could be easily tuned by switching between oxidative and reductive conditions and time. However, AFM, TEM, and CD measurements revealed little morphological and structural changes at molecular and nano dimensions, showing no apparent influence arising from the disulfide bond formation.

Keywordspeptide amphiphilesself-assemblyhydrogelationredox stimuliThis article is published with open access at

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Autor: ChangHaiCao - MeiWenCao - HaiMingFan - DaoHongXia - HaiXu - JianR.Lu


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