Hydrogels are peculiar soft materials formed by a 3D polymeric network surrounded by water molecules. In these systems the mechanical and the chemical energy are well balanced and an applied external stimulus (mechanical or chemical) can cause a distinctive response, where the contributions of the mechanics and the mass transport are combined to form a “poroviscoelastic” behavior. In this work the poroviscoelastic behavior of the agarose gels has been investigated, from the experimental and modeling points of view, by applications of external mechanical stimuli. The pure gel, brought in the non-equilibrium condition, showed that the combined effect of mechanical viscoelasticity and water transport were essential to reach the new equilibrium condition. Furthermore, the agarose gel loaded with a model drug, theophylline, showed that the mechanical stimulus can enhance the drug release from the system by stretching the polymeric chains, modifying the mesh size and therefore the drug diffusion coefficient.
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