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    The bioartificial chitosan–poly(vinyl alcohol) blends were toughened by means of a dehydrothermal treatment (DHT), to facilitate the formation of hydrogen bonds between the macromolecules. The materials were characterized by stress–strain test, contact angle measurement, spotlight Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and chemical imaging, weight loss in water, swelling in water vapor saturated atmosphere, Alamar blue test to evaluate the indirect cytotoxicity, and the diffusive permeation, through membranes made with the blends, of D(+)glucose, vitamin B12, and bovine serum albumin. The results were compared with those of the blends crosslinked by glutaraldehyde (GTA). The Young's modulus ranges between 10.56 and 16.12 MPa, and it is higher for the blends subjected to DHT than for those crosslinked by GTA, a fact explainable by the elasticity of the latter, due to the flexible bridges connecting the different chains. The contact angles indicate a scarce wettability, and then a scarce hydrophilicity, which is confirmed by the chemical imaging of the surfaces, made in the total reflection (microATR) mode, of the films toughened by DHT: the ν(OH) band in the 4000–3000 cm-1 is nearly absent in all the regions of the maps. Moreover, the correlation maps indicate a homogeneous distribution of the two components within the blends. The weight loss in water is generally less than 15%, and increases with the content of the ionizable macromolecule chitosan in the blends, a trend shown also by the swelling after exposure to water vapors. Alamar blue test shows that none of the eluates, after being in contact with the materials up to seven days, appears cytotoxic toward murine fibroblasts. As concerning the diffusive permeation, it appears good for D(+)glucose, quite good for vitamin B12, and scarce for bovine serum albumin. In conclusion, the chitosan–poly(vinyl alcohol) blends studied appear to be suitable for their use as biomaterials.


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