In this study, a new pH-tunable thermoresponsive hydroxyl-terminated hyperbranched polyether (HTHP 2) was successfully prepared via a one-pot cationic polymerization technique and postmodification. In the first step, hydroxyl-terminated hyperbranched polyether containing double bonds (HTHP 1) were synthesized. Then, through thiol-ene "click" reaction, pH-responsive carboxyl groups were introduced to the target polymer of HTHP 2. The products were characterized via Fourier-transform infrared spectra (FTIR), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and size-exclusion chromatography-multiangle laser light scattering (SEC-MALLS). Moreover, dynamic light scattering (DLS) and UV-Vis spectroscopy was employed to study the pH- and thermoresponsiveness in detail. Results showed that HTHP 2 possessed typical pH-controllable thermoresponsive behavior. By regulating the solution pH value range 3.0-5.4, LCST of HTHP 2 could be changed from 12.8 to 68.0 °C. Meanwhile, the cell viabilities of A549 cells were more than 80% for in vitro cytotoxicity tests of HTHP 2, suggested that HTHP 2 polymers are of good biocompatibility for up to 24 h.
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