Recently, a great deal of research has focused on the study of self-healing hydrogels possessing electronic conductivity due to their wide applicability for use in biosensors, bioelectronics, and energy storage. The low solubility, poor biocompatibility, and lack of effective stimuli-responsive properties of their sp2 carbon-rich hybrid organic polymers, however, have proven challenging for their use in electroconductive self-healing hydrogel fabrication. In this study, we developed stimuli-responsive electrochemical wireless hydrogel biosensors using ureidopyriminone-conjugated gelatin (Gel-UPy) hydrogels that incorporate diselenide-containing carbon dots (dsCD) for cancer detection. The cleavage of diselenide groups of the dsCD within the hydrogels by glutathione (GSH) or reactive oxygen species (ROS) initiates the formation of hydrogen bonds that affect the self-healing ability, conductivity, and adhesiveness of the Gel-UPy/dsCD hydrogels. The Gel-UPy/dsCD hydrogels demonstrate more rapid healing under tumor conditions (MDA-MB-231) compared to that observed under physiological conditions (MDCK). Additionally, the cleavage of diselenide bonds affects the electrochemical signals due to the degradation of dsCD. The hydrogels also exhibit excellent adhesiveness and in vivo cancer detection ability after exposure to a high concentration of GSH or ROS, and this is comparable to results observed in a low concentration environment. Based on the combined self-healing, conductivity, and adhesiveness properties of the Gel-UPy/dsCD, this hydrogel exhibits promise for use in biomedical applications, particularly those that involve cancer detection, due to its selectivity and sensitivity under tumor conditions.
KEYWORDS:diselenide, carbon dot, self-healing, hydrogel sensor, stimuli-responsive