Selection of Water-Soluble Chitosan by Microwave-Assisted Degradation and pH-Controlled Precipitation

In the field of gene therapy, chitosan (CS) gained interest for its promise as a non-viral DNA vector. However, commercial sources of CS lack precise characterization and do not generally reach sufficient solubility in aqueous media for in vitro and in vivo evaluation. As low molecular weight CS showed improved solubility, we investigated the process of CS depolymerization by acidic hydrolysis, using either long time heating at 80 °C or short time microwave-enhanced heating. The resulting depolymerized chitosan (dCS) were analyzed by gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to determine their average molecular weight (Mn, Mp and Mw), polydispersity index (PD) and degree of deacetylation (DD). We emphasized the production of water-soluble CS (solubility > 5 mg/mL), obtained in reproducible yield and characteristics, and suitable for downstream functionalization. Optimal microwave-assisted conditions provided dCS with a molecular weight (MW) = 12.6 ± 0.6 kDa, PD = 1.41 ± 0.05 and DD = 85%. While almost never discussed in the literature, we observed the partial post-production aggregation of dCS when exposed to phase changes (from liquid to solid). Repeated cycles of freezing/thawing allowed the selection of dCS fractions which were exempt of crystalline particles formation upon solubilization from frozen samples.

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Polymers, 12, 1274
Jun 02 2020

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 Record created 2020-06-02, last modified 2020-06-19

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