Background: Phenylboronic acid-polymers (PBA-polymers) have attracted tremendous
attention as potential stimuli-responsive materials with applications in drug-delivery
depots, scaffolds for tissue engineering, HIV barriers, and biomolecule-detecting/sensing platforms.
The unique aspect of PBA-polymers is their interactions with diols, which result in reversible,
covalent bond formation. This very nature of reversible bonding between boronic
acids and diols has been fundamental to their applications in the biomedical area.
Methods: We have searched peer-reviewed articles including reviews from Scopus, PubMed,
and Google Scholar with a focus on the 1) chemistry of PBA, 2) synthesis of PBA-polymers,
and 3) their biomedical applications.
Results: We have summarized approximately 179 papers in this review. Most of the applications
described in this review are focused on the unique ability of PBA molecules to interact
with diol molecules and the dynamic nature of the resulting boronate esters. The strong sensitivity
of boronate ester groups towards the surrounding pH also makes these molecules
stimuli-responsive. In addition, we also discuss how the re-arrangement of the dynamic boronate
ester bonds renders PBA-based materials with other unique features such as self-healing
and shear thinning.
Conclusion: The presence of PBA in the polymer chain can render it with diverse functions/
relativities without changing their intrinsic properties. In this review, we discuss the development
of PBA polymers with diverse functions and their biomedical applications with a
specific focus on the dynamic nature of boronate ester groups.