Soft-tissue replacements are challenging due to the stringent compliance requirements for the implanted materials in terms of biocompatibility, durability, high wear resistance, low friction, and water content. Acrylate
hydrogels are worth considering as soft tissue implants as they can be photocurable and sustain customized shapes through 3D bioprinting. However, acrylate-based hydrogels present weak mechanical properties and significant dimensional changes when immersed in liquids.
To address these obstacles, we fabricated double network (DN) hydrogels composed of polyacrylic acid (PAA) and bacterial cellulose nanofibers
(BCNFs) by one fast UV photopolymerization
step. BCNFs/PAA hydrogels with a 0.5 wt% BCNFs content present an increased stiffness and a lower, non-pH-dependent swelling than PAA hydrogels or PAA hydrogels with cellulose nanocrystals
. Besides, BCNFs/PAA hydrogels are biocompatible and can be frozen/thawed. Those characteristics endorse these hybrid hydrogels as potential candidates for vascular and cartilage tissue implants.