Shape Memory Polymer Foams with Phenolic Acid-Based Antioxidant Properties

Changling Du, David Anthony Fikhman, Mary Beth Browning Monroe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Phenolic acids (PAs) are natural antioxidant agents in the plant kingdom that are part of the human diet. The introduction of naturally occurring PAs into the network of synthetic shape memory polymer (SMP) polyurethane (PU) foams during foam fabrication can impart antioxidant properties to the resulting scaffolds. In previous work, PA-containing SMP foams were synthesized to provide materials that retained the desirable shape memory properties of SMP PU foams with additional antimicrobial properties that were derived from PAs. Here, we explore the impact of PA incorporation on SMP foam antioxidant properties. We investigated the antioxidant effects of PA-containing SMP foams in terms of in vitro oxidative degradation resistance and cellular antioxidant activity. The PA foams showed surprising variability; p-coumaric acid (PCA)-based SMP foams exhibited the most potent antioxidant properties in terms of slowing oxidative degradation in H2O2. However, PCA foams did not effectively reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) in short-term cellular assays. Vanillic acid (VA)-and ferulic acid (FA)-based SMP foams slowed oxidative degradation in H2O2 to lesser extents than the PCA foams, but they demonstrated higher capabilities for scavenging ROS to alter cellular activity. All PA foams exhibited a continuous release of PAs over two weeks. Based on these results, we hypothesize that PAs must be released from SMP foams to provide ade-quate antioxidant properties; slower release may enable higher resistance to long-term oxidative degradation, and faster release may result in higher cellular antioxidant effects. Overall, PCA, VA, and FA foams provide a new tool for tuning oxidative degradation rates and extending potential foam lifetime in the wound. VA and FA foams induced cellular antioxidant activity that could help promote wound healing by scavenging ROS and protecting cells. This work could contribute a wound dressing material that safely releases antimicrobial and antioxidant PAs into the wound at a continuous rate to ideally improve healing outcomes. Furthermore, this methodology could be applied to other oxidatively degradable biomaterial systems to enhance control over degradation rates and to provide multifunctional scaffolds for healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1105
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • oxidative degradation
  • phenolic acids
  • polyurethane
  • shape memory polymer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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