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Third-degree burn injuries pose a significant health threat. Safer, easier-to-use, and more effective techniques are urgently needed for their treatment. We hypothesized that covalently bonded conjugates of fatty acids and tripeptides can form wound-compatible hydrogels that can accelerate healing. We first designed conjugated structures as fatty acid–aminoacid1–amonoacid2–aspartate amphiphiles (Cn acid–AA1–AA2–D), which were potentially capable of self-assembling into hydrogels according to the structure and properties of each moiety. We then generated 14 novel conjugates based on this design by using two Fmoc/tBu solid-phase peptide synthesis techniques; we verified their structures and purities through liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Of them, 13 conjugates formed hydrogels at low concentrations (≥0.25% w/v), but C8 acid-ILD-NH2 showed the best hydrogelation and was investigated further. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that C8 acid-ILD-NH2 formed fibrous network structures and rapidly formed hydrogels that were stable in phosphate-buffered saline (pH 2–8, 37 °C), a typical pathophysiological condition. Injection and rheological studies revealed that the hydrogels manifested important wound treatment properties, including injectability, shear thinning, rapid re-gelation, and wound-compatible mechanics (e.g., moduli G″ and G′, ~0.5–15 kPa). The C8 acid-ILD-NH2(2) hydrogel markedly accelerated the healing of third-degree burn wounds on C57BL/6J mice. Taken together, our findings demonstrated the potential of the Cn fatty acid–AA1–AA2–D molecular template to form hydrogels capable of promoting the wound healing of third-degree burns.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.