Photoswitchable Microgels for Dynamic Macrophage Modulation

Yuri Kim, Ramar Thangam, Jounghyun Yoo, Jeongyun Heo, Jung Yeon Park, Nayeon Kang, Sungkyu Lee, Jiwon Yoon, Kwang Rok Mun, Misun Kang, Sunhong Min, Seong Yeol Kim, Subin Son, Jihwan Kim, Hyunsik Hong, Gunhyu Bae, Kanghyeon Kim, Sanghyeok Lee, Letao Yang, Ja Yeon LeeJinjoo Kim, Steve Park, Dong Hyun Kim, Ki Bum Lee, Woo Young Jang, Bong Hoon Kim, Ramasamy Paulmurugan, Seung Woo Cho, Hyun Cheol Song, Seok Ju Kang, Wujin Sun, Yangzhi Zhu, Junmin Lee, Han Jun Kim, Ho Seong Jang, Jong Seung Kim, Ali Khademhosseini, Yongju Kim, Sehoon Kim, Heemin Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Dynamic manipulation of supramolecular self-assembled structures is achieved irreversibly or under non-physiological conditions, thereby limiting their biomedical, environmental, and catalysis applicability. In this study, microgels composed of azobenzene derivatives stacked via π–cation and π–π interactions are developed that are electrostatically stabilized with Arg–Gly–Asp (RGD)-bearing anionic polymers. Lateral swelling of RGD-bearing microgels occurs via cis-azobenzene formation mediated by near-infrared-light-upconverted ultraviolet light, which disrupts intermolecular interactions on the visible-light-absorbing upconversion-nanoparticle-coated materials. Real-time imaging and molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate the deswelling of RGD-bearing microgels via visible-light-mediated trans-azobenzene formation. Near-infrared light can induce in situ swelling of RGD-bearing microgels to increase RGD availability and trigger release of loaded interleukin-4, which facilitates the adhesion structure assembly linked with pro-regenerative polarization of host macrophages. In contrast, visible light can induce deswelling of RGD-bearing microgels to decrease RGD availability that suppresses macrophage adhesion that yields pro-inflammatory polarization. These microgels exhibit high stability and non-toxicity. Versatile use of ligands and protein delivery can offer cytocompatible and photoswitchable manipulability of diverse host cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2205498
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec 8

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Wiley-VCH GmbH.


  • dynamic hydrogels
  • macrophage adhesion
  • macrophage polarization
  • microgel swelling
  • photoswitchable microgels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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